Transferring Single Embryos with IVF

A remarkable series of medical advances have optimized the role of assisted reproductive technology in overcoming infertility. The success of the first IVF baby in 1978 was the result of the transfer of a single embryo. This embryo was allowed to grow for five days in the laboratory. At this stage the embryo is called a blastocyst.

For about two decades following the success of the first IVF case most programs in the United States used three day old embryos for transfer, rather than blastocysts. These embryos are called cleavage stage embryos. Three-day embryos were used because the success in growing embryos to the fifth day was limited in the past.

Cleavage stage embryos do not implant as readily as blastocysts. Consequently, in order to achieve satisfactory pregnancy rates with cleavage stage embryos it was common to transfer more than one embryo. In some cases, even three or four embryos were often transferred. You can imagine in this state of affairs the significant number of multiple pregnancies which ensued.

Our doctors at the “Infertility and Lifespan Medical Institute” are very careful to reduce or essentially eliminate the likelihood of a multiple pregnancy. In the case of multiple births there is a high likelihood of preterm labor and significant prematurity for the newborns.

Multiple pregnancies place the mother at risk as well. The problems include accelerated hypertension, known as preeclampsia; diabetes of pregnancy, operative delivery, placenta previa and preterm labor.                

The “Holy Grail” of IVF and Embryo is to reduce the risk of multiple pregnancy. The obvious solution is to transfer only one single embryo a time. However, this is a reasonable course of action only if the single embryo being transferred gives a high likelihood of pregnancy.

Beautiful embryos are not always genetically normal. Genetic testing is the ultimate determination of an embryo capable of resulting in pregnancy. The transfer of a single high-quality embryo essentially results in the same likelihood of pregnancy regardless of the age of the mother. In these cases, the transfer of just a single blastocyst is associated same pregnancy rate as the transfer of two or even three cleavage stage embryos.

At the “Infertility and Lifespan Medical Institute,” our goal is to provide an optimal setting in which a single high-quality embryo can be transferred into the mother with a high rate of success. For a consultation with Dr. Brody, call us at 858-344-5020, or contact us through our website at We will provide a wealth of information regarding all aspects of assisted reproduction

Dr. Steven A. Brody Dr. Steven A. Brody, the Director of the Infertility & Lifespan Medical Institute in San Diego, has spent his professional career providing compassionate and specialized care to help families overcome infertility. Dr. Brody has authored two textbooks, one at Stanford and one with a Nobel Prize winner at Cambridge, entitled “Principles and Practice of Assisted Human Reproduction.” Dr. Brody earned his M.D. degree at Washington University and continued his education with an internship at Yale, a residency at Stanford, and a fellowship at Baylor. Dr. Brody is the only doctor in the U.S. who has achieved Board Certifications in four distinct specialty areas including: Internal Medicine, Endocrinology & Metabolism, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility. If you are looking for a compassionate and thorough physician who works with you to overcome infertility and treat any reproductive disorders, call the office or book an appointment online today.

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