Single Embryo Transfer
After my husband and I learned that we had no chance to become pregnant by natural means, we began to investigate IVF/TESE (sperm obtained by biopsy of the testes) with ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) as a way to realize our dream of starting a family. We expected the procedures to be challenging to our bodies, minds, and finances. We were also concerned about the frequency of twin and triplet births with IVF. As much as we hoped to have a child, we wanted to do everything we could to provide the best start for our child-to-be. We wanted to optimize our chances for a healthy full-term singleton pregnancy, natural childbirth, and breastfeeding, if we could become pregnant. Dr. Carolyn Givens patiently answered our many questions about IVF and embryo cryopreservation and supported us when we made a choice that was quite unusual at the time: we requested that only one embryo be placed in my uterus during the IVF cycle and that any remaining embryos be frozen. I was 34 at the time and had never been pregnant.
We had the exceptional fortune that our first IVF/ICSI cycle in August of 1997 produced 13 beautiful embryos, and our transfer of a single fresh 3-day-old embryo during that cycle resulted in the birth of our son Benjamin nine months later. I was still breastfeeding Ben in 2001 when we decided to try for a second pregnancy. Dr. Givens transferred a single 8-cell frozen embryo during an unmedicated natural cycle. We had explained to Ben that there was a little, little baby in Mommy's tummy that we hoped might grow to be his brother or sister. About a week after the transfer, Ben said, "Mommy, the little, little baby in your tummy is crying." A few days later, my period began, and I felt like crying too. The next month, Dr. Givens transferred another frozen embryo, also without medication. Ben thought this embryo was happy, and he was right: she grew to be his sister Charlotte. When we were considering the choice to have our embryos transferred one at a time, we were glad to learn that the expense of frozen embryo transfers was only a small fraction of that for the IVF/ICSI procedures. I found embryo transfers performed by Dr. Givens to be gentle and comfortable. Dr. Givens' respect for our individual preferences made our infertility treatments a very positive experience. Our children have brought us unimaginable happiness. **-- Camille, Redwood City** !(http://www.pacificfertilitycenter.com/fertilityflash/vol2-3/hr.gif) Most couples going through IVF or frozen embryo transfer choose to transfer at least two embryos in order to improve the chances of conception with any one embryo transfer procedure. As Camille's story indicates, however, in younger patients with nice embryo quality and overall good chances for success, electing to transfer a single embryo is a viable option to avoid the risks of multiple gestation pregnancy. It also illustrates the benefits of embryo cryopreservation for having more than one child with a single IVF stimulation cycle. **-- Carolyn Givens, MD**