In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a dream come true for many patients trying to have a family. Over the years, twin births, triplets, quads or more had been common for those patients. But did you know that with recent developments in assisted reproductive technology, specialists recommend only a single embryo transfer for women under 35?
Why choose single embryo transfer?
The simple answer is that transferring multiple embryos carries a greater risk of a multiple birth. Multiple births – whether twins or more – are actually more dangerous for the mother and the fetuses. An article in the New York Times states that the “creation of an instant family of four or more may sound wonderful to couples who struggled for years to conceive and to older women nearing the end of their best childbearing years. But as “cute” as twins and triplets may seem, multiple pregnancies can be fraught with complications that compromise a successful outcome and the health of mothers and their babies.”
The risk for babies:
According to a fact sheet from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), multiple pregnancies often lead to premature delivery. Babies born prematurely are at risk for serious short-term and long-term health problems such as cerebral palsy, long-term lung and gastrointestinal problems, and even death in the first few months of life.
The risk for mothers:
Complications increase with each additional fetus in a multiple pregnancy and include many medical issues such as preterm birth, placental problems, preeclampsia & diabetes. In addition to these, there is a higher incidence of severe nausea and vomiting, cesarean section, or forceps delivery.
Why not use single embryo transfer for all IVF cases?
It all comes down to patients having the right information. In women who are considered good candidates, single embryo transfer has shown excellent pregnancy rates, often equivalent to pregnancy rates in women who had multiple embryos transferred. Whether to use single embryo transfer is a decision each patient should make after talking with her reproductive health professional. The infographic below, created by Resolve The National Infertility Association and ARC Fertility, illustrate the challenges to patients choosing elective single embryo transfer – and can be used to start a conversation between the patient and her doctor.