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Embryo Transfer

A look at embryo transfer in IVF

The embryo transfer is the final step of the IVF process at our Austin IVF clinic. It is during this procedure that the fertility specialist places an embryo into the patient’s uterine cavity. For most women, it is the most exciting part of the IVF process, as it is the step that will hopefully result in pregnancy.

Explaining the steps before embryo transfer

Following egg retrieval, the eggs are either inseminated or injected with sperm from the woman’s partner or sperm from a donor. Fertilization typically occurs within 18 hours of adding or injecting that sperm. Our team then cultures the embryos for up to seven days in the IVF laboratory at Ovation Fertility Austin, and we freeze embryos that reach specific developmental milestones on Day 5, 6 or 7.

If embryos will undergo preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) in order to confirm chromosomal normalcy, our team biopsies them just prior to freezing. It typically takes approximately seven to 10 days to get the results of the embryo biopsy back from the genetics laboratory.

After the egg retrieval, patients will typically have a menstrual period in approximately 10 to 14 days. They will then start on estrogen supplementation in order to develop a uterine lining of appropriate thickness (at least 7 mm) to support a pregnancy. The team at our Austin IVF clinic will monitor this process using transvaginal sonography in our office. Once the lining is ready, the patient will start progesterone supplementation and the embryo transfer will occur typically on the sixth day of progesterone administration.

Performing the embryo transfer

We perform the embryo transfer in the same operating room in which the egg retrieval at our Austin IVF clinic occurred. Unlike the egg retrieval, we perform the embryo transfer without any sedation, as it is painless. Patients will typically receive Valium prior to the embryo transfer, not to sedate them, but rather to relax the uterus and prevent contractions that could potentially decrease the likelihood of implantation.

As part of the embryo transfer procedure, the fertility doctor places a speculum in the patient’s vagina. We then remove cervical mucous so that it won’t impede the ability of the embryo to reach the upper portion of the uterus. The embryo is then loaded into a very small catheter (tube) in the IVF laboratory. An Ovation embryologist will bring the catheter into the operating room, and the fertility doctor will carefully place the catheter into the patient’s uterus under direct ultrasound guidance.

The embryo transfer procedure is painless, and every step will be observed by the patient and her partner both on large TV monitors in the back of the operating room and on the ultrasound screen. The entire transfer process takes less than 10 minutes, and typically only a single embryo is transferred during each procedure.

The patient then walks back to the recovery area where she will change her clothes and be discharged. A pregnancy test will be performed approximately nine days after the embryo transfer. During the intervening period, the patient will continue to take both estrogen and progesterone supplementation.

If you have questions about embryo transfer or any other step of IVF, contact our Austin IVF clinic for an appointment.