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How do you prepare for embryo transfer?

Embryo transfer is the part of treatment where one or more cultured embryos are transferred back into the womb. In most treatments, one embryo will be transferred while other embryos that show potential are frozen for later use.

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    Embryo transfer is the part of treatment where one or more cultured embryos are transferred back into the womb. In most treatments, one embryo will be transferred while other embryos that show potential are frozen for later use.

    Your transfer can take place two to five (sometimes six) days after your egg collection (if going through a fresh cycle). Your Apricity advisor will keep you updated on when this is likely to be. In this short period, you’ll have been taking medication to help prepare the lining of your womb for the best chance of implantation.

    During the embryo transfer process itself, an embryo is selected and transferred into the womb through a fine, flexible tube inserted through your vagina and cervix. Embryo transfer is usually a quick and safe procedure and is often done under ultrasound guidance.

    You Apricity advisor will keep you updated on what you can expect from embryo transfer, but the following outlines our most frequently asked questions around embryo transfer.

    What should I do to prepare for embryo transfer?

    You’ll already have been taking all the right medications and supplements, and there’s not much else you need. An embryo transfer is usually not done under sedation and you can eat and drink normally before the appointment. If your case is particularly difficult or there are other reasons, you may have an embryo transfer under sedation and you will need to follow very carefully the fasting instructions given to you via the clinic or your Apricity advisor.

    We will usually ask that you have a full bladder – this pushes the uterus into a good position for embryo transfer and also helps the ultrasound clinician see the uterus better.

    What symptoms will I experience during and after embryo transfer?

    The embryo transfer procedure is similar to a smear test: a speculum is inserted into the vagina to help visualise the cervix, and a fine, soft tube is inserted through the cervical os (the small opening in the cervix) to deposit the embryo into the womb. Some women find it completely painless, but some women do find it uncomfortable.

    You may experience crampy pains after the procedure, and it’s not uncommon to have some light bleeding – we recommend using a sanitary pad and not a tampon to manage this. This kind of pain or light spotting don’t mean that anything’s gone wrong.

    Do I need to take time off work?

    Unlike egg collection, we don’t normally advise that people need time off work, but we do recommend avoiding strenuous or unusual exercise, so it depends on the nature of your work. If you have any concerns about your work or day-to-day activities around this time, your Apricity advisor can give you individually tailored advice. 

    Is the embryo transfer procedure painful?

    The actual embryo transfer shouldn’t be painful, but some women do experience discomfort at some point of the process. Please do let your clinician know if something feels irregularly uncomfortable.

    How long does an embryo transfer take?

    The actual procedure can take as little as five minutes, but often takes about 15. The whole appointment will probably take about an hour.   

    Can I bring my partner, friend, etc.?

    Absolutely. It’s very natural for a partner to be present for this stage. We’ve also had women bring their sister, mother, or a friend. Bring the person you feel most comfortable around. It’s also okay if you prefer to come to these appointments by yourself.

    How will I know if my embryo transfer has worked?

    You might hear all kinds of anecdotes about how someone just knew when they were pregnant. The truth is that you really don’t know until you take your pregnancy test at the time that the clinic recommends. It’s usually around two weeks after transfer, and we understand that it can feel like the longest two weeks of your life. The best advice we have is to act as if you could be pregnant by eating healthily, not smoking or drinking alcohol, while at the same time assuming nothing. For more on the two-week wait, this article has further guidance.

    Is there anything I can do to improve chances of success after embryo transfer?

    This question gets asked a lot, and we have a few FAQs here.

    The answer is mostly to follow common sense and the advice you’ll have had from your Apricity team. Be selective about what you read on the internet – and try your best to relax.

    Written by Apricity Team

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