Houston Fertility Center

IVF Myths: You'll Wind Up With a Football Team

By Sonja Kristiansen, MD on October 24, 2011

More debunking of myths about IVF, referring to a recent blogpost I found by Dr. Kathy D.

Myth #2. IVF produces twins, triplets and more

Bearing in mind that this is a quick blogpost and not a full-on journal article on the subject, Dr. Kathy D. is right about the age of a woman's eggs. But I want to interject that there are many more facets to consider when trying to institute how many embryos should be transferred in an IVF cycle. So in fact, the decision to use single embryo transfer (or SET) is not as clear cut as it sounds.

Age of the hopeful mother is a huge factor, as is her overall health. Possibly the even greater factor we take into account is the grade of the embryo.

Embryos are graded by observing several parameters. For a detailed but patient-friendly description of the embryo grading process, check out this Healthline article.

At this week's annual gathering of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the question of how many embryos to transfer was addressed again. It is, indeed, still an unanswered question -- but we're getting closer!

One poster presentation, titled simply "Optimum Number of Embryos to Transfer on Day 3 to Achieve High Pregnancy Rates and Low Multiples Rates Based on Patient Age and Embryo Quality," looked at 717 ART cycles at one IVF center with Day 3 (post-fertilization) transfers and their outcomes. Their conclusions:

Patients < 35 yrs; transfer of 1 Top quality embryo is recommended. Addition of a second embryo for transfer increases twin rate without significantly increasing pregnancy rate. Patients 35-37 yrs; transfer of 2 embryos is recommended to achieve desired pregnancy rate, however, risk of multiples needs to be addressed particularly if Top quality embryos are transferred. (L. Hill, S. LaBrie, P. St. Marie, K. Lynch, E. Tougias, M. Arny Baystate Reproductive Medicine, Baystate Health, Springfield, MA)

Researchers are continually trying to determine the best culture medium, the best time period, the best tools for helping fertilized eggs grow into the healthiest possible embryos, but there are many things out of even the best embryologist's control. Still, conscientious fertility specialists, like the staff of Houston Fertility Center, stay on top of the latest findings and apply them in their labs and clinics.

Whether your specialist is in Houston or New York or any other location, we're all interested in how to make pregnancy a reality for our patients. So success -- a healthy singleton baby -- becomes more quickly achievable all the time.

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