When a couple visits Arizona Center for Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, they’re looking for the most effective fertility solutions to help them maximize their chances of getting pregnant. At AZCREI, we’re at the forefront of innovative treatment techniques, one of which includes the blastocyst transfer procedure.
The blastocyst procedure—or blastocyst transfer—is a specialized IVF technique in which an embryo that has been matured to the blastocyst stage is transferred to the womb. For many couples, it’s a solution that brings hope and helps them have a baby, even when other treatments weren’t successful in the past. Here’s what you need to know about blastocyst transfer.
What Is a blastocyst?
A blastocyst is an embryo that has progressed to a phase where it is highly developed and ready to attach to the uterine wall (or ready for implantation). This critical point of development usually occurs five to six days after ovulation. Once embryos have matured to this phase, they are more likely to be chromosomally normal and result in a viable pregnancy.
When an egg is fertilized, the resulting embryo begins as a single cell that must develop and differentiate until it is able to “hatch” from its shell (or zona pellucida), and attach itself to the uterine wall. At this point, the embryo consists of 100-150 cells and becomes a blastocyst; as a blastocyst, the embryo is considered to be biologically fit enough to successfully implant and continue to develop into a full-term pregnancy.
The Blastocyst Transfer
The blastocyst procedure, or blastocyst transfer, is the placement of developed blastocysts into the uterus.
When an IVF embryo is transferred on the second or third day after egg fertilization, they are only at the four- to eight-cell stage, and therefore must continue to grow for another few days in order to reach the blastocyst phase and implant into the uterine wall.
If we wait to transfer and implant an embryo until it’s at the blastocyst phase, we have a greater chance of the IVF procedure resulting in a pregnancy. This is because many embryos will stop growing at the earlier stage (when they are just four to eight cells), often due to chromosomal issues; the ones that do successfully reach the blastocyst phase are more developmentally competent.
Of course, the true success rate of a blastocyst transfer is determined and affected by several factors, including the age and cause of infertility. At AZCREI, our team will discuss all the options available to your before beginning a procedure.
Benefits of the Blastocyst Procedure
A blastocyst transfer allows for the selection of embryos that have the highest chance of a successful pregnancy. This allows us to use fewer embryos during implantation while maintaining excellent pregnancy rates.
A Solution for Women with Multiple Failed Cycles
Under natural circumstances, it takes about five days after fertilization for the embryo to travel through the fallopian tube to reach the uterus. During the time of ovulation, the uterus contracts to guide the egg through the fallopian tubes and to guide any potential sperm to the egg for fertilization. Blastocyst transfer can help women who have had multiple failed cycles, because in waiting the five days for implantation, the uterus becomes more accessible; there are fewer contractions and a higher likelihood of the uterus accepting the blastocysts.
Reducing the Likelihood of Multiple Births
Another great advantage of the blastocyst procedure is that it allows the transfer of a single well-developed embryo into the uterus. This greatly reduces the probability of conceiving twins (or even triplets), as well as the complications that arise as the result of multiple births.
Greater Opportunity for Freezing Viable Eggs
Because we only need one or two blastocysts for a successful transfer instead of three to four early-stage embryos, we have more embryos available for cryopreservation. This gives us a greater opportunity for frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycles in the future.
We want you to rest assured that you have options when it comes to overcoming your infertility and having a baby. Our patients appreciate that we take the time to educate them throughout the entire process so that they can make a well-informed decision. To make an appointment and learn more about blastocyst transfer options, call us at 520-326-0001 or visit us online.