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Embryos Need To Develop Properly Before Transfer
If you’re looking at the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF), you may have heard the phrase human preimplantation embryo development. What does that mean? How is preimplantation related to IVF treatments? Why is it important to understand how embryos develop? Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.
What is human preimplantation embryo development?
The average person doesn’t spend much time thinking about how an embryo develops unless they’re struggling with infertility. On the surface, you may think that once the sperm and egg come together, the result is automatically a pregnancy. In fact, once the sperm fertilizes an egg, the resulting embryo must go through several stages of development before it’s able to implant itself in the uterus. A fertilized egg that does not develop properly and does not implant in the uterus will not result in a successful pregnancy.
Preimplantation embryo development starts with the sperm fertilizing the egg. Next, the embryo splits in half several times, going from one cell to two cells to four cells to eight cells. This process takes place over the course of about three days. The embryo then compacts into a contained cluster of cells. On about the 7th day, the cluster of cells hatch and the embryo is ready to implant itself in the uterus.
Why is preimplantation relevant to IVF?
With IVF, many stages of preimplantation embryo development happen in a lab before being transferred into the uterus. According to the Mayo Clinic, embryo transfer typically takes place two to six days after eggs have been retrieved and fertilized. A 2012 study published by Development, a leading research journal covering developmental biology, indicated that transfers are most commonly performed five days after egg retrieval, which allows the embryo to develop until it’s nearly ready to hatch and implant itself in the uterus. This process also allows time for various types of testing to ensure the embryos are healthy enough to transfer and don’t show abnormalities.
What else is important to know about preimplantation?
There are various tests available to determine the suitability of embryos before the transfer. Many are optional and may only be recommended for the most at-risk situations, such as a mother of advanced age, multiple failed pregnancies, or a high risk of hereditary genetic problems. This testing usually will help increase the odds of successful embryo implantation. Problematic embryos won’t result in a full-term pregnancy with a live birth.
What are the benefits of preimplantation?
IVF has been a very successful option for many couples struggling with infertility. Preimplantation testing helps identify abnormal embryos, preventing unhealthy embryos from being transferred to the uterus. It also may decrease risk to couples or individuals with life-threatening inherited disorders from have children also affected with the same condition. Finally, it may reduce multiple pregnancy risks by identifying healthy embryos for implantation.
If you feel preimplantation is an option you would like to consider, contact us today for a consultation.