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What does the embryo transfer stage of IVF treatment involve?

The embryo transfer stage of IVF treatment is where the laboratory fertilised eggs are inserted into your uterus. If the embryo manages to attach itself to your uterus and continues to grow, you are officially pregnant.

The embryo transfer normally takes place between two or three days after your eggs have been fertilised with your partner's sperm, depending on what your doctor recommends. One of more embryos can be transferred, and although high quality embryos are preferable, it's not uncommon for less healthy embryos to result in successful pregnancies.

The actual embryo transfer is carried out through a small catheter that is placed in your vagina. The process should be carried out in a stress-free environment, and it's vitally important for you to remain relaxed. Anxiety and apprehension at this stage can reduce the chances of a successful transfer.

After the embryo transfer stage of IVF, you must rest for at least three days, preferably in your bed. Inactivity and lying down gives the embryos a greater chance of successfully attaching themselves, and of you becoming pregnant.

Any embryos that are not transferred will usually be frozen and stored for future IVF treatment. Embryos can be stored for up to five years, although fresh embryos do have a slightly better success rate.

Testing for pregnancy will usually take place nine to eleven days after an embryo transfer. This usually involves taking a small sample of blood to test for the presence of the HCG hormone, which becomes raised when you are pregnant.

A urine pregnancy test (HPT) may also be used but such tests can produce a significant number of falsely negative results. A blood test is more accurate and dependable.

An increasing common alterative to standard embryo transfer if the blastocyst transfer. This is almost identical to the procedure explained above, but with the embryo transfer taking place on day five, instead of day two or three. The popualrity of this process is due to its potentially higher rate of implantation. Take a look at more details on blastocyst transfers.

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