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What is Single Embryo Transfer in In Vitro Fertilization?

If you can’t get pregnant because of infertility, you might consider single embryo transfer through in vitro fertilization (IVF). Here, a fertility doctor explains the risks and rewards of both single embryo transfer and dual embryo transfer.

Is single embryo transfer effective? Here’s what Dr Albert Yuzpe, the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Genesis Fertility Center in Vancouver, says that the prerequisites of an effective single embryo transfer is “good prognosis” patients over 35 years old, there are three top quality embryos on day three, a good blastocyst culture system, and a good embryo cryopreservation program.

In other words, you have to talk to your fertility doctor! He or she can give you a better idea if single embryo transfer would work for you. To learn more about coping with infertility treatments, read IVF: The Wayward Stork — What to Expect, Who to Expect It From, and Surviving It All? And here’s more information about in vitro fertilization and single embryo transfer…


What is Single Embryo Transfer in In Vitro Fertilization?

Single embryo transfer is when a single egg is fertilized in in vitro fertilization (an infertility treatment in which a woman’s eggs are fertilized by sperm in a laboratory rather than the womb).

Dr Yuzpe says couples coping with infertility may become desperate to get pregnant, and make decisions that negatively affect her health and the health of her baby. More specifically, he says that dual embryo transfer (a medical procedure in which two fertilized eggs or embryos are transferred) has the same success rate, but can cause more complications.

Does Dual Embryo Transfer Increase Chances of Pregnancy?

The chances of getting pregnant with dual embryo transfer are comparable to single embryo transfer, but the chances of twins is 20 times more with dual, and the chances of triplets is 400 times more. So, dual embryo transfer doesn’t necessarily increase the chances of conception.

Plus, having twins isn’t necessarily an ideal situation…

“Having twins is not good; the risk of a learning disability is increased four to six times, and there’s a higher risk of premature birth, pregnancy loss, need for Cesarian section,” says Dr Yuzpe.

The cost of these types of in vitro fertilization is exactly the same, but single embryo transfer reduces your chance of multiple births.

Increasing the Chances of Pregnancy With Single Embryo Transfer

For single embryo transfer to be successful, these conditions should be met:


  • A successful, good quality embryo freezing program
  • A laboratory capable of developing embryos successfully to the blastocyst stage
  • Good blastocyst culture
  • Good quality embryos
  • Good “day 3” or “day 5” embryos

Dr Ken Cadesky, the Medical Director of LifeQuest Center for Reproductive Medicine adds that the selection criteria for this type of in vitro fertilization must be met: women younger than 38 years old, first in vitro fertilization try, more than two blastocysts, and appropriate fertility counseling and consent. These conditions aren’t necessarily the same for all fertility clinics or infertility treatment centers.

Have you tried in vitro fertilization (IVF) or single embryo transfer? I welcome your comments below…


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Source: “Elective Single Embryo Transfer,” The National Post (June 2010).

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