Single Embryo Transfer Cuts Multiples
IVF Success Rate High in Good Prognosis Patients
Oct. 5, 2007 -- Transferring one embryo instead of two or more to minimize
the risk of multiple births is a viable option for some infertile women over 35
undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), new research shows.
The review included 45 women in their mid-30s or older with good-quality
embryos who had single blastocyst transfer. The average age of the women was
37, and the oldest was 43.
Half the women in the review became pregnant after having the procedure -- a
rate that is roughly double the national average for women in this age group
Researcher Amin A. Milki, MD, makes it clear that the women were carefully
selected, and that most women of this age group do not have enough good-quality
eggs in reserve to allow the transfer of just one embryo.
But for those who have high-quality embryos, single blastocyst transfer
offers a good chance at pregnancy with a low chance of giving birth to twins,
he tells WebMD.
“We may need to expand the guidelines to include single transfer as an
option for good prognosis women over 35 who want to avoid twins for medical or
personal reasons,” he says.
IVF Over Age 35
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommends the
transfer of two to three embryos for women between the ages of 35 and 37 and
three to four embryos in women between the ages of 38 and 40.
Single-embryo transfer is recommended for women under age 35 who have a good
chance of achieving a pregnancy.
Nearly 60% of IVF procedures in the United States are performed on women 35
Traditionally, single-embryo transfers have been performed only by necessity
in women 35 and over because these women had only a single quality embryo
available for transfer, Milki says.
He adds that little is known about outcomes in older women with more than
one good-quality embryo who chose single blastocyst transfers.
The procedure involves the
maturation of embryos outside the body for up to five days, during which time
the embryos reach the blastocyst stage of development. The clinician then
selects the best-quality embryo for implantation into the uterus.
The 45 women included in the review represented all elective single
blastocyst transfers in women over 35 treated at Stanford University Medical
Center in Palo Alto, Calif.
Twenty-eight of the women (62%) conceived and 23 (51%) had pregnancies that
went beyond the first trimester and resulted in a live birth.
The review appears in the latest online edition of the journal Fertility
The Trickiest Treatment Group
The findings have the most relevance for women between the ages of 35 and 40
-- the age where infertility treatment decisions are often the most
complicated, Milki says.
“Younger women can often achieve good pregnancy rates with only one embryo,
and the risk of multiple births is low in older women, even when many embryos
are transferred,” he says.