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Embryo Transfer

Embryo transfer is a technique of transferring an embryo into a woman's uterus to create a pregnancy that otherwise cannot occur naturally. There are many debates about this process that revolve around ethical and moral beliefs. However, many women who desire a child have limited options and may choose to explore this method to conceive. To learn more about embryo transfer and how the procedure is performed, take a look at the questions below that have been answered by the Experts.

What medication should a woman take to optimize the results of an embryo transfer and what should she expect during the transfer?

To ensure a successful embryo transfer, the uterine lining must be healthy and prepared to accept and maintain the embryo. In many cases, a woman is given a progesterone supplement to help this process and it is generally started around or at the time of the embryo transfer. Typically, the progesterone supplement is continued until the results of a pregnancy test are determined but, in some cases, it is continued throughout the first trimester. Progesterone oils and vaginal progesterone such as suppositories, gel or tablets tend to be more effective than oral progesterone. While progesterone oil (intramuscular) can sometimes be more painful than taking vaginal progesterone, the advantage is that there tends to be less luteal phase bleeding with it, making it the more popular choice. In some cases, hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is used along with progesterone but it isn’t as effective as using progesterone only and could lead to complications such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Estradiol estrogen is also taken often with vaginal progesterone to avoid late luteal bleeding in the vagina. While many programs suggest that the woman should rest and reduce physical activities after an embryo transplant, there typically isn't any evidence to state that diet or exercise has an impact on the transplant. It is also normal for a woman to experience small amounts of clear to bloody discharge shortly after an embryo transplant. In addition, due to the increased levels of hormones, many women may experience tender or engorged breasts, bloating and constipation. Occasionally, a woman may experience cramping and pain during the transfer as well, which is usually caused from the transfer catheter touching the uterine walls. Women who have an embryo transfer are generally tested for pregnancy by the levels of hCG in the body after the transfer. Once pregnancy has been established, the woman will typically continue with an ultrasound evaluation one month after embryo retrieval. The fetal heartbeat is usually detected during the ultrasound. After the ultrasound, the woman will be referred for obstetrical care but many women choose to continue to keep in touch with the infertility doctor to be on the safe side.

How long does it take for the embryo to implant into the uterus between the time of the embryo transfer and the first blood test?

Implantation could take around three days but, generally, there is no way to determine if the embryo transfer is successful until the hCG hormone level begins to rise in the woman's blood. his generally occurs a few days after the embryo is implanted. In other words, the first blood test is what usually indicates whether everything is going according to plan.

What is recommended to do and not to do after an embryo transfer?

While there is no evidence that can prove bed rest offers any benefit to a woman who has undergone an embryo transfer, many doctors will have their patients on some form of bed rest or reduced activity levels for a few days following the transfer. This is usually just a precaution and provides many women with a sense of involvement and control with the procedure. The doctors generally request that exercise is minimized during this time since many women could end up blaming themselves if the embryo transfer doesn't take due to heavy exercise.

If the results of the HCG test say 758 after an embryo transfer, does this mean it is high and signifies the presence of multiple fetuses?

If a woman has two embryos transferred and has an hCG reading this high it could indicate the possibility of having twins. However, this cannot be determined until the fetal heartbeat(s) are heard during the ultrasound which occurs 2-3 weeks after the hCG levels have been read. For many women, conceiving isn’t easy and causes a lot of stress. This is one of the reasons why they opt for becoming pregnant with the help of an embryo transfer. If you have any questions about an embryo transfer or would like to learn more about this process, direct your questions to an Expert. They can offer medical insights and suggestions on the best approach to becoming pregnant based on the details of your case.

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