Single Embryo Transfers May Improve Your Pregnancy Chances





During your contracting phase, you will discuss how many embryos you are willing to have transferred into your uterus at a time. While most doctors prefer to transfer no more than two, you should always be aware of how many embryos you do transfer with the knowledge that they could all take, resulting in multiple gestations.

Once you’ve agreed to a maximum number of embryos to transfer at a time, understand that your intended parents will work with the IVF doctor to decide the final number of embryos to transfer on your specific transfer date. It won’t exceed what you’ve consented to, but you may be surprised to learn that only one embryo is being transferred.

When you begin to consider how many embryos you’d be comfortable transferring, you may believe that transferring more than one embryo at a time will only help improve the odds of achieving pregnancy. You wouldn’t be alone in this thought process.

For many years, intended parents have opted to transfer multiple embryos. The logic was that IVF is an expensive process, and transferring multiple embryos would surely improve the odds of having at least one take and go on to result in a live birth. However, researchers at Duke University and Colorado University are turning that logic on its head and saying a single embryo transfer may be the way to go.

The Colorado and Duke study is the first comprehensive comparison of the two methods, comparing outcomes for 30,000 patients who underwent IVF between 2012 and 2014.

The largest of its kind study showed that the act of transferring multiple embryos often lead to multiple gestations. In the case of twins, triplets, or even higher order multiples, it is quite common for the babies to be born prematurely and encounter additional medical needs.

However, when doctors transferred a single embryo, there was no noticeable drop in the number of successful pregnancies. In the instances of single embryo transfer, the outcome was an improved probability of a full term pregnancy and healthy, live birth. In fact, researchers said that transferring just one embryo doubles the probability of a healthy, live birth. The conclusion researchers came to was that it is in the best interest of the future fetus, the carrier, and the hopeful parents to transfer a single embryo at a time.

In addition, the study looked at IVF success rates in cases where doctors used both fresh and frozen embryos. They found that there was no clinical difference in the success rates between fresh or frozen embryos. Given that the use of a frozen embryo rather than a fresh one is logistically much simpler, researchers are suggesting that frozen embryo transfers are the wave of the future.

Of course, the plan you make with your doctor will be based on a number of contributing factors. Your doctor may still elect for, encourage, or allow multiple embryo transfer if that is what looks to be in the best interest of success.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.