More than 10 percent of couples in the world face infertility. In the past, management of this condition was difficult in many cases. But since 1978, people are no longer alone in their struggle to conceive.
That year, something very important happened. Louise Joy Brown was born, becoming the first child conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF), a technique now commonly used to treat infertility. The method is quite safe and offers many infertile women the chance to get pregnant. For more than 40 years that have passed since, over 8 million children have been born with the help of IVF and the related intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) technique.
Let’s briefly outline how IVF works. During IVF, conception occurs outside the body. The fertilized eggs, now called embryos, grow in a laboratory for up to 5 days. After that, they can be transferred to the uterus.
Previously, doctors preferred to transfer several embryos at once, because it increases the chances that at least one will successfully implant. In general, no more than 40% of transferred embryos manage to attach to the uterine lining, so this approach seemed to be reasonable.
However, multiple embryo transfer has its drawbacks. Two or more embryos can sometimes implant, resulting in multiple pregnancy. This situation can lead to serious pregnancy complications and premature birth.
It has been established that single embryo transfer maximizes the chances of giving birth to a healthy term baby. That’s why EBCOG suggests transferring only one embryo during IVF. This is beneficial to the health of both the mother and the child. Although it is the responsibility of doctors to transfer one embryo, in several countries the number of transferred embryos is determined under relevant legislation.
The discovery of single embryo transfer benefits is only one step in the continuous scientific effort. Researchers keep refining assisted reproductive technology to help people with fertility problems become parents, no matter their age, gender, medical condition, and background.
Content created in association with EBCOG, the European Board & College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.