Blastocyst Transfer

A single-cell embryo (zygote) is produced when the sperm cell fertilises the egg cell. In a natural cycle, the single-cell embryo undergoes successive cell divisions and proceeds from the tubes to the uterine environment on the 5th or 6th day of its formation. The continuously developing embryo is called a blastocyst at that stage; The embryo in the blastocyst stage expands in volume, extends around its shell, called Zona pellucida, and when the adequate conditions are met, it implants to the uterus. In IVF treatments, the implantation occurs after the transfer of the carefully selected embryos into the uterus using special catheters.

In the early years of IVF, embryo transfers were performed in the early cleavage period (days 2 and 3 of embryo development) due to the insufficient or limited knowledge of embryo development. As the information and technical facilities improved over time, it became possible to provide the appropriate conditions for development of the embryos in the lab until the implantation phase. Nowadays, blastocyst transfer is carried out in accordance with the patient characteristics, treatment history, and the suitability of the clinical infrastructure.

Both in our clinic and in the world, studies indicate that pregnancy rates are significantly higher with embryo transfers performed on day 5 rather than on day 3. That being said, blastocyst transfer might not be suitable for every treatment. In our couples with a good number of embryos, especially on the 3rd day, embryos are further developed to the blastocyst stage to ensure a higher chance of pregnancy.

Who is blastocyst transfer suitable for?

Blastocyst transfer is generally preferred in couples where the woman is aged below 35, in order to make a more efficient embryo selection and thus ensure a higher chance of pregnancy. It is also preferred in couples who have had unsuccessful 2nd or 3rd day high-quality embryo transfers, those who do not want multiple pregnancies, those who have been able to form many high-quality embryos but do not wish to freeze them.

What are the disadvantages of blastocyst transfer?

The rate of reaching the blastocyst stage is 40-70% in the treatment of couples where the woman is aged below 35, and who do not suffer from any significant sperm factors. However, as the cause of infertility becomes serious, the chance of reaching the blastocyst stage decreases. In some treatments, embryos may be observed as high quality in their early development period, but serious problems may be observed in the development of blastocysts, which may never develop at all. For this reason, some treatments cannot succeed, and the treatment can be cancelled. These possibilities need to be discussed with couples for whom a blastocyst transfer is planned. Problem related to the development of the blastocyst are also linked with the technical infrastructure of the clinic, the air quality, hygiene conditions, etc. required for a successful treatment outcome. Finally, the laboratories of some centres may not be equipped enough for the freezing of blastocysts than they would be for the freezing of early-stage embryos.

Your physician will talk with you about these probabilities and discuss the most suitable treatment protocol for you.

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