At the Houston Fertility Institute, our goal is to help patients take home a healthy baby. Advancements in assisted reproductive technology have helped make this possible. Today, we can achieve better pregnancy rates by transferring fewer embryos. As a result, single embryo transfer success rates continue to improve. For good candidates, single embryo transfer reduces the chance of multiple births without decreasing pregnancy rates.
In the early days of assisted reproductive technology, physicians and patients alike would push to transfer many embryos at a time. This approach would maximize the chance for live birth and minimize patient cost by achieving conception within a few treatment cycles, but it came with a risk.
While it is true that transferring more embryos will improve your chances of taking a baby home, it also promotes a higher chance for twins or triplets. Multiples can be complicated can by premature birth, low birth weight, and long term chronic illness. Women who are pregnant with multiples are also at risk for gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, severe anemia, and heavy bleeding with delivery.
Advancements in prenatal and neonatal care have greatly improved survival rates for multiples, but these pregnancies are still considered high risk. Today, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has guidelines for the number of embryos to transfer based on a woman’s age, embryo stage/quality and clinical background.
The option for a single embryo transfer is now a viable option for women younger than 35 who are undergoing their first or second IVF cycle or women using embryos made from donor eggs.
Women who meet these qualifications tend to have a number of good-quality embryos available for selection. Transferring one embryo and freezing the extras reduces the chance of multiples to less than three percent while maintaining comparable pregnancy rates. At the Houston Fertility Institute, we celebrate single embryo transfer success stories.
Ultimately, our goal is to help patients take home a healthy baby. Through continued technological advancements we hope to improve our embryo selection techniques so that the majority of patients can have high success with just one or two embryos. Reducing extraneous risks and improving pregnancy success rates moves us one step closer to achieving this goal.
Dr. Nurudeen graduated magna cum laude from Texas A&M University and earned her medical degree from Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine. She completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Georgetown University Hospital.