This is a follow up blog post from our original What Happens After an Embryo Transfer?
The field of assisted reproductive technology has made remarkable strides in the past few decades, granting many people the joy of parenthood. A key aspect of this journey is embryo transfer in IVF. In this blog post, we will delve into this subject, discussing what happens during and after the embryo transfer procedure, the timeframe for confirming pregnancy, and the success rates associated with embryo transfer.
What is an Embryo Transfer?
Embryo transfer refers to the final step in the IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) process where a fertilized egg, or an embryo, is transferred into the uterus for implantation and pregnancy. The process begins with egg retrieval from the woman’s ovaries, which are then fertilized in a lab setting with the partner’s or a donor’s sperm. After the eggs have been fertilized, they are cultivated for a few days until they reach a certain stage of development and then are ready for transfer.
A typical embryo transfer procedure is simple, painless, and usually does not require anesthesia. It involves the use of a thin catheter to place the embryos into the uterus. The number of embryos transferred can vary based on different factors like the patient’s age and specific medical history. Once the embryos are in place, the hope is for at least one to implant into the uterine lining, leading to a successful pregnancy.
What Happens After an Embryo Transfer?
Following an embryo transfer, the transferred embryos are expected to continue their development in the uterus. This period is critical and is often filled with anticipation, as it determines whether the IVF cycle was successful.
It’s important to note that it takes a few days for the embryos to implant into the uterine wall. This process is called embryo implantation and it usually happens a few days post-transfer. In the meantime, the woman is often advised to take it easy, avoiding vigorous physical activities, and may be prescribed medications such as progesterone to support the potential pregnancy.
How Soon After an Embryo Transfer Are You Pregnant?
One of the most common questions after an embryo transfer is: when can we confirm the pregnancy? It can vary based on the type of transfer—3-day or 5-day.
Following a 3-day transfer, it’s generally recommended to wait for about two weeks before taking a pregnancy test. This is often referred to as the “two-week wait”. For a 5-day transfer, the wait could be slightly shorter, with the first signs of pregnancy potentially being detectable after approximately 9 days.
What Happens After a 3-day Embryo Transfer?
The days following a 3-day embryo transfer can be filled with anticipation. On the first day, the embryos are usually in the 6-8 cell stage. By day 3, they should begin compacting and forming a morula. Around day 5 or 6, they become a blastocyst, ideally ready to implant into the uterine lining. The implantation usually starts around day 7, and by day 9, the embryo should be fully implanted. The production of the pregnancy hormone (HCG) starts around this time. By day 11, an early pregnancy test might be able to detect the hormone if implantation was successful..
Below is a breakdown of what you can expect each day following your 3-day embryo transfer:
|Days Past Transfer (DPT)||Embryo Development|
|Day 1||The embryo continues to grow and develop, turning from a 6-8 cell embryo into a morula.|
|Day 2||The cells of the morula continue to divide, developing into a blastocyst.|
|Day 3||The recently formed blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell.|
|Day 4||The blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and now it starts to attach itself to the uterus.|
|Day 5||The blastocyst continues to attach deeper into the uterine lining, beginning the implantation.|
|Day 6||The implantation continues.|
|Day 7||On the 7th day following a 3-day transfer the implantation is complete and the cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop.|
|Day 8||The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) begins to enter the blood stream.|
|Day 9||Fetal development continues and the hCG continues to be secreted.|
|Day 10||Fetal development continues and the hCG continues to be secreted.|
|Day 11||Levels of hCG are now high enough to detech a pregnancy.|
What Happens After a 5-day Embryo Transfer?
With a 5-day transfer, the embryos have already reached the blastocyst stage at the time of transfer. In the days following the transfer, the blastocysts will hatch from their protective outer layer, which usually happens within 1-2 days post-transfer. They should then begin to implant into the uterus lining around day 3 post-transfer, with the process typically completed by day 5. Around this time, the embryo begins to produce HCG, which is the hormone detected in pregnancy tests. By day 9, a sensitive pregnancy test may be able to confirm the pregnancy.
Below is a breakdown of what you can expect each day following your 5-day embryo transfer:
|Days Past Transfer (DPT)||Embryo Development|
|Day 1||The blastocyst begins to hatch out of its shell.|
|Day 2||The blastocyst continues to hatch out of its shell and now it starts to attach itself to the uterus.|
|Day 3||The blastocyst continues to attach deeper into the uterine lining, beginning the implantation.|
|Day 4||The implantation continues.|
|Day 5||Implantation is complete and the cells that will eventually become the placenta and fetus have begun to develop.|
|Day 6||The human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) begins to enter the blood stream.|
|Day 7||Fetal development continues and the hCG continues to be secreted.|
|Day 8||Fetal development continues and the hCG continues to be secreted.|
|Day 9||Levels of hCG are now high enough to detech a pregnancy.|
What is the Success Rate of an Embryo Transfer?
The success rate of an embryo transfer can depend on a variety of factors, including the quality of the embryos, the age and health of the woman, and the expertise of the clinic performing the procedure. The average success rate of a single cycle of IVF, including embryo transfer, ranged from 20-35% in women under 35, decreasing with age. This rate may vary based on whether fresh or frozen embryos are used and how many are transferred.
It’s important to note that not every embryo transfer will result in a successful pregnancy, and it may be necessary to undergo multiple IVF cycles. However, with advancements in assisted reproductive technology, the prospects for successful IVF have never been better.
Embryo transfer in IVF is a critical process that carries the hopes and dreams of many aspiring parents. While it’s a relatively straightforward procedure, the journey that follows, from the anxious waiting period to the joy of a positive pregnancy test, can be filled with emotion.
The days following the transfer, whether a 3-day or a 5-day transfer, require patience and positivity. With knowledge about the process, you can better understand what’s happening in your body and manage your expectations.
Remember, it is crucial to discuss your individual circumstances, expectations, and any concerns you may have with your fertility specialist. With advancements in reproductive technology and compassionate, personalized care, the dream of parenthood can become a reality for more people than ever before.