During IVF, most patients will create multiple embryos and this will force a decision of how many to transfer at one time. The data tells us that if a patient has two embryos, for instance, her success rate with those two embryos will be the same whether she transfers one embryo at a time (known as elective Single Embryo Transfer, or eSET) or both embryos at once.
This is a point that requires continual highlighting: the decision to transfer embryos one-at-a-time or multiple-at-once does not change the odds the cycle will lead to a live birth.
It does mean the patient having a double embryo transfer may require one fewer transfer to achieve the same result. As a result, that patient may become pregnant a month or two earlier and save roughly $3,000 (the cost of one transfer). This is not to be confused with the cost of a whole new cycle (roughly $20,000).
However, if a woman who transfers two embryos at once does conceive, she is far more likely to carry twins-or-triplets (30%) than if she conceives having transferred one-embryo-at-a-time (1%).
This is an especially big problem because multiple gestation pregnancies raise the risk to both mother and offspring.
For this reason, many don’t believe taking on this level of risk is worth it just to save an additional transfer (at $3,000) and a month or two of time.
IVF is complicated and, while we wish we could say that it's possible to absorb all the details during the 5 - 30 minute visits with your doctor, that's really not the case. This comprehensive guide to IVF boils down every major issue you'll encounter -- a high level overview of the IVF process, a deeper dive into the IVF process, IVF success rates and how they differ depending on diagnosis and age, the medication protocols that can be used during IVF, the choice of inseminating eggs either using ICSI fertilization or conventional insemination, the pros and cons of growing embryos to Day 3 cleavage stage or Day 5 blastocyst stage, the decisions around genetic screening of embryos, deciding which embryo to transfer, deciding how many embryos to transfer at once, the ways the IVF laboratory can impact your odds of success and the things you need to know up front to avoid going to the wrong lab for you, the risks of IVF, and the costs of IVF. We're always sure to provide details about how data might be different depending on different unique types of patients -- because in the world of fertility, it's really not one-size-fits-all. We truly believe this guide is the foundation every fertility patient should start with when they're navigating the world of treatments.