Embryo transfer: common questions about this assisted reproduction treatment
The moment that all patients who undergo assisted reproduction treatment anxiously wait for has finally arrived. The last step before entering into the well-known phase called the “beta hcg wait”: the moment of the embryo transfer.
The embryo transfer consists in depositing the embryo(s) obtained during culture inside the uterine cavity. It is a process that is performed in the operating theatre in order to maintain stable environmental conditions and is guided by an abdominal ultrasound and without anaesthesia.
During this procedure you will always be accompanied by a doctor, an embryologist and a nurse. As we know this is an extremely important moment for you, we would like to summarise the most common questions that tend to come up.
These are questions that patients like you at URE Centro Gutenberg normally ask us. So let’s answer them!
Is the embryo transfer painful?
Not at all! It’s a painless outpatient procedure and doesn’t require any anaesthesia. Patients tend to say that it is even less uncomfortable than a gynaecological check‑up.
How long does an embryo transfer last?
Although it’s a delicate procedure, the embryo transfer doesn’t usually take more than ten minutes. Afterwards, the patient will stay in the operating theatre for an additional ten minutes.
Once she’s left the operating theatre the patient will then proceed to a recovery room and can either rest a bit longer or directly go home.
Do I need to rest following the embryo transfer?
Resting following this procedure has not been shown to improve results. That being said, at our fertility clinic in Spain we recommend staying relatively relaxed the day of the embryo transfer; this recommendation is not to prevent an undesired outcome, but rather for the patient’s peace of mind.
Can I be sexually active following the embryo transfer?
Just as with the question about whether or not rest is necessary, there are no studies that show that intercourse reduces or increases the chances of pregnancy following an embryo transfer.
Even so, we recommend abstaining from intercourse at least until after the patient has taken the pregnancy test. This is especially true for women who have undergone ovarian stimulation, as the ovaries will have increased in size and the risk of ovarian torsion is thus greater.
Is it normal to bleed following an embryo transfer?
Yes, and this is what worries patients the most, as many women confuse this bleeding with menstruation.
However, this bleeding is common, as certain blood vessels in the endometrium must break in order for embryo implantation to take place. This is the only way that new blood vessels will be able to form and provide the embryo with everything it needs to properly develop.
But this bleeding, called implantation bleeding, does not always happen. It may go by unnoticed or might just be perceived as spotting that is lighter than a period. The important thing is to know how to tell the difference, as this bleeding is light and generally pinkish or brown in colour.
If this happens, at URE Centro Gutenberg we always advise you to call the phone number that the doctor provided you with to obtain more information and take any necessary measures depending on the type of bleed.
Can I swim and take baths following the embryo transfer?
This question is quite common in the summertime when the pool and beach form part of our day‑to‑day activities. We recommend that you avoid submerging yourself in water at the beach/pool as well as in the bathtub for the first four or five days following the embryo transfer.
This is mainly due to the medication that you will take, as it’s used vaginally, but it is also to prevent possible infections.
What medication can I take following the embryo transfer?
Initially you will need to take the medication prescribed to you by your doctor on the day of the embryo transfer. Apart from this, if something happens and you need to take additional medication we always recommend calling us and asking us about it at URE Centro Gutenberg.
This way, your doctor can decide what the ideal treatment is depending on what you need.
Do I need to watch the types of food I eat following the embryo transfer?
We always recommend leading a healthy lifestyle including a healthy and balanced diet. This of course includes the recommendation to avoid habits that are harmful to fertility such as smoking or consuming alcohol.
Recent studies published in leading fertility journals have found a relationship between a decline in female fertility and certain foods, such as junk food and sugar.
Coffee is another food that we recommend cutting back on when a patient begins assisted reproduction treatment. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid it entirely, but it’s advisable to cut back to a maximum of two cups of coffee daily.
Can I exercise following the embryo transfer?
It is best to avoid intense physical activities that require strenuous exercise. Apart from this, carrying out any physical activity will be beneficial to your health and, as a result, to your fertility. Many patients have told us that exercise was an essential part of overcoming the stressful days leading up to the pregnancy test.
Do you have any other questions about the embryo transfer? Are you about to undergo assisted reproduction treatment? Contact us!