How sequential embryo transfers reduce IVF pregnancy rates

Many clinics do sequential embryo transfers for their patients , claiming that this helps to increase pregnancy rates. This means they transfer some embryos on day 3 , and then transfer some more embryos on day 5. Patients are happy because they naively believe that the more the embryos which are transferred, the better their chances of getting pregnant. They believe that this option allows them to have their cake and eat it too.

Actually, this technique is the hallmark of a poor quality clinic . The very fact that the clinic needs to do sequential transfers means they're not confident that they can grow embryos to day 5 in their IVF lab, so they are using this strategy to try to hedge their bets.

Also, this option actually reduces pregnancy rates . For one thing, it increases the risk of a multiple pregnancies because you're transferring too many embryos inside the uterus. If both the day 3 and the day 5 embryos implant , you would end up with a multiple pregnancy, which poses a huge risk to the newborn babies , because of the danger of prematurity .

Even worse, because the doctor has used up all your embryos for the fresh transfer, there are no spare embryos left for freezing. This means, if the cycle fails, you have to start a fresh cycle all over again, and this is much more expensive than doing a frozen cycle.

Sequential transfer reduces the overall cumulative conception rate , and the tragedy is that doctors are pushing patients into doing this because they are not confident about their lab.

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Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.