How to Prepare for your Embryo Transfer
Embryo transfer is part of the In vitro fertilization (IVF) process, it involves transferring 1 or more embryos that have been grown for 3-6 days back into the uterus in hopes of pregnancy resulting.
The day of embryo transfer is a big day, it's the day you could potentially become pregnant! Especially if you've been through a long journey of trying to conceive and going through IVF, sometimes it can be nerve racking to go into the next procedure not knowing exactly what to expect. But I'm here to tell you, it's not that bad!
Especially if you've already gone through egg retrieval(s) or IUI(s), you'll find the embryo transfer procedure itself a breeze. But being that it's such a crucial day in the IVF process, there are a few things you can do to prepare for, stay comfortable during, and increase the odds of success for your embryo transfer.
Confirm your medications and schedule
It's important to follow the instructions your fertility doctor gives you closely. The timing of when you take your meds can be incredibly important, especially around the time of your embryo transfer. Make sure you're crystal clear about everything leading up to your transfer and what your instructions are when you leave that day.
Some clinics recommend bed rest for 36 hours following transfer. Research is now showing it doesn’t make a big difference in pregnancy rates, but many clinics still recommend it. If bed rest is recommended for you then make sure to adjust your schedule accordingly.
If you're confused about anything ask your doctor or a nurse to clarify for you. If you need, ask for written instructions.
Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy goodies
Especially if it's recommended for you to be on bed rest for 36 hours after your transfer, make sure you have plenty of healthy food prepped to feed the growing embryo camped out in your uterus. If you'd like to know more about what foods to eat in the days while you await your pregnancy test, check out my post: Foods for Implantation.
Decide if you want a partner or friend with you
Many people, especially for their first embryo transfer, want a partner or friend there for support. Some clinics are fine with you being alone, but some will ask you to have someone with you to drive you home, especially if they've prescribed you something to reduce anxiety, such as Valium.
It's totally up to you if you want someone in the room with you during the transfer or not. If you feel it would ramp up your anxiety and make you feel worse, don't feel obligated to let anyone in. But if you feel vulnerable and in need of some support, it may be nice to have a hand to hold.
Also, I'll add that some people like to have pictures or video of the procedure, especially of the ultrasound the moment the embryo actually gets transferred (you can see a little flash!) You can ask whoever you bring along to help document the big day.
Bring a water bottle, avoid coffee or tea
During the actual embryo transfer procedure it's common for your doctor to use ultrasound over your uterus to visualize where the embryo is going. It can help to see the uterus better if the bladder is slightly full, but if it's too full and it can be really uncomfortable. For that reason, your clinic will often ask for you to have a "comfortably" full bladder, the easiest way to do that is to drink water fairly consistently the morning of your procedure, but don't chug it.
If you can stand to, avoid coffee and tea that morning. Because they're diuretics they'll make you feel like you have to pee much quicker and when your bladder isn’t very full.
Some clinics don't require a full bladder, it depends on the ultrasound methods being used.
Wear comfy clothes & bring a pair of socks
A few things to keep in mind:
- You're going to be asked to undress from the waist down
- You're going to be lying on a treatment table for at least 30-60 minutes
- Many clinics crank their air conditioning way high
I usually recommend patients wear loose, comfy clothes and dress in layers. Bring socks in case your feet get cold while you're on the table. Avoid wearing a romper or a cute but uncomfortable dress.
If you need, most clinics have extra pillows, sheets, and even blankets to help you stay comfortable.
If you're not already familiar, acupuncture can boost fertility and increase IVF success rates. It's recommended to get acupuncture leading up to your egg retrieval as well as on the day of your embryo transfer.
Because acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer needs to be timed shortly before and after the transfer, it's recommended you get acupuncture in your fertility clinic. I often attend embryo transfers with my patients and some clinics have in-house acupuncturists you can reserve.
If you'd like to receive acupuncture on the day of your transfer make sure it's with an acupuncturist trained in fertility/IVF protocols and make sure to plan ahead. You'll need to reserve your acupuncturist and coordinate with your clinic to make sure they have the room and time to accommodate on the day of your transfer.
If you can't have acupuncture the day of your transfer, the next best thing is to get a treatment within 24 hours before your transfer, then again during your implantation window. Implantation occurs 7-10 days after egg retrieval. If you're using frozen embryos, then use the age of the embryos to determine the implantation window. For example, if you transfer a day 5 frozen embryo then your implantation window will be 2-5 days later (or when the embryo is 7-10 days old.)