What to Expect on Transfer Day

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Transfer day can feel like the peak of your journey to this point. In many ways it is exactly that. Months of effort have gone into preparing for this day. Tons of preparation is required to arrange the logistics to get you from your home to the clinic. It’s an exciting time. Here’s a look at what happens on this very memorable day.

You will arrive at the fertility clinic early in the morning. Generally you will be asked to arrive with a full bladder and, in some cases, you will be asked to have taken a muscle relaxer like Valium before coming in as well. Some believe both of these measures may help improve the odds of embryo implantation in the uterus.

You will be taken to a procedure room and asked to disrobe from the waist down. Sometimes you’ll be asked to put on a medical gown, while other times you’ll be given a cover for your lap. While you are getting changed the intended parent(s) will likely talk with the embryologist about the quality of the existing embryos as well as the number of embryos to be transferred. If the intended parent(s) chose to complete preimplantation genetic testing of the embryo, then the sex of the embryos are already known and are able to be shared with the intended parents.

Once you are appropriately changed and on the procedure table an Embryologist will load the embryos into a special catheter. The doctor will use a speculum to open the vagina and expose the cervical opening, this is very similar to what you’d experience during your annual pap smear. Using an ultrasound wand the catheter will be snaked through the vagina, through the tiny opening of the cervix and into the uterus. Once positioned appropriately, the embryo(s) will be expelled from the catheter and left inside of the uterus. Generally this process is done with the aid of an ultrasound machine, and you’ll be able to watch the entire process. In some cases the embryologist may examine the catheter after the procedure is complete to make sure no embryos were left inside the tube by accident.

The surrogate is generally asked to lay flat on her back in the procedure room for a period of time following the placement of the embryos in order to give them the best shot possible at sticking. The entire procedure is over and done in less than 20 minutes.

Most surrogates will take a period of bed rest lasting between 24 and 72 hours. Implantation of the embryos can occur as late as 72 hours after the transfer.

Occasionally your intended parents will join you at transfer. In many cases, however, this is not a possibility for them, especially for surrogates working with international intended parents, as the cost of last minute travel can be prohibitive. If your intended parents do not attend the transfer, try not to be disappointed. This is entirely normal and does not mean that they’re disinterested.

Dr. Kim Bergman

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 Fertility Counseling Services and 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 upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.