Embryo Transfer: The Final Step in IVF Treatment

The final step of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, embryo transfer, is performed as an outpatient procedure at our greater Los Angeles, CA-area fertility practice.

An illustration of the female reproductive tractAn IVF cycle starts with ovulation induction through the use of fertility medications. When a sufficient number of eggs have matured, they are retrieved from the ovaries. The eggs will then be mixed with sperm in a laboratory so that fertilization can occur. Finally, they are transferred to the mother's uterus. IVF requires patience and dedication, but it can be tremendously rewarding to hopeful parents having difficulty conceiving. If you would like more information about IVF or any other fertility treatments, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians.

Completing the IVF Cycle

The final step in an IVF cycle is transferring the healthiest and most viable embryos to the mother's uterus for implantation. Three to five days after fertilization has occurred, the embryos can be tested for genetic defects, chromosomal abnormalities, and gender using pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). This is an optional technique that allows our fertility specialists to select the most suitable embryos for transfer. 

The transfer procedure will typically take place two to four days after fertilization has occurred, when the embryos have between two and eight cells. Your doctor will determine how many embryos to transfer to increase the likelihood of successful implantation and pregnancy.

The embryo transfer procedure can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Using ultrasound imaging as a guide, the doctor will introduce the predetermined amount of embryos through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus with a small catheter. Anesthesia is generally not required, and there is little pain or discomfort during and after the procedure.

Once the embryo transfer is complete, patients are encouraged to rest for the remainder of the day. For the next few days, our physicians recommend that you take supplemental progesterone or other medications to increase the chances of successful implantation. 

Elective Single-embryo Transfer

Some patients may be candidates for elective single-embryo transfer (eSET). The embryos are allowed extra time to develop in the laboratory. When more cells develop, the embryo becomes a blastocyst, which has higher implantation rates. This higher rate of implantation allows our doctors to only transfer one blastocyst rather than multiple embryos.

ZIFT and GIFT

For patients who suffer from cervical obstructions or stenosis, or have had multiple failed IVF attempts, we can perform a zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT) or gamete intra-fallopian transfer (GIFT). These techniques involve the fertilized egg being transferred to the fallopian tube rather than the uterus. In the GIFT technique, the sperm and egg are mixed, and immediately transferred to the fallopian tubes. In ZIFT, the fertilized eggs (or zygotes) are transferred within 24 hours. Our team will help you decide which technique will give you the best chances of becoming pregnant.

Schedule an IVF Consultation

If you would like more information about the embryo transfer procedure, or any of the other steps involved in an IVF treatment cycle, please contact our office to make an appointment with one of our doctors.