Is A Single Embryo Enough?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a multistep approach to help individuals or couples get pregnant. During IVF, embryos are created with extracted eggs and a sperm sample. When the embryos are ready, the patient and fertility clinic face a critical choice. Should a single embryo be implanted in the uterus or multiple embryos? In the past, the standard practice was to transfer 2 or more. Now, most patients opt for elective single embryo transfer (eSET) to prevent the chance of multiples.

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Identifying the best embryo

Elective single embryo transfer is a process whereby the fertility clinic finds the best possible embryo for pregnancy. After creating multiple embryos, the embryologist assesses each sample through a microscope to look for specific qualities. Then, the best embryo is transferred, and the others are frozen for future cycles. The goal of eSET is to achieve a single pregnancy. Past IVF transfers with multiple embryos often meant twins or multiple pregnancies. Since technology allows fertility clinics to have better insight into the selected embryo, a single transfer is usually all that is needed.

Benefits of eSET

The biggest goal of eSET is to reduce the chances of multiples and increase the chance of a successful and healthy pregnancy. Twins, triplets, and more come with an increased risk of complications. Pregnant women carrying multiples are more likely to experience pregnancy loss, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes. Multiples can also create emotional and financial stress on future parents. The single embryo approach gives IVF the best chance of producing a healthy baby while protecting the mother.

Who is a good candidate?

The best candidates for eSET have no apparent physical issue with the uterus. Women younger than 35 with healthy embryos are also excellent candidates. Anyone considering elective single embryo transfer should be open to preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), which can provide important information. Women who have PGT done can ensure the best embryo is selected for transfer.

Are multiple still possible?

Thanks to advances in fertility treatment, single embryo transfers have fantastic outcomes. Studies show that a single transfer during IVF has similar success rates to transferring multiple embryos. Apart from unexplained infertility, eSET works well for various reproductive issues. However, some couples are concerned that eSET can still provide multiples. There is always a slight possibility that an embryo can split and produce twins or more. Statistics place the chances of multiple births from IVF eSET at 1.36%, while the natural twin rate is about 2%.

Maximize success with eSET

IVF can help couples struggling with infertility. During that process, the fertility clinic will use a single embryo transfer to maximize the chances of a successful and healthy pregnancy. With eSET, the risk of multiples is relatively low. As the remaining embryos are frozen, couples can also safely try additional IVF cycles to grow the family in the future.

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