Thursday, March 4, 2010
More Questions Regarding IVF and ICSI: Can I Have Twins, SET, And Other Post Retrieval And Transfer Questions
Hello again, this is S. with some follow-up questions from my earlier email.
Thanks for answering my questions. I have a few more. I know that obviously it depends upon the number of viable eggs removed during egg retrieval for IVF with ICSI but how many of the eggs would they try to fertilize and use at a time? How does it work with the frozen embryos? What are the chances of twins or triplets with this type of procedure? Can I decide if I want twins if I have more than 1 egg that is ready? After the egg is fertilized and put back do I have to be off of my feet for a time? How long does it take for the process to take place?
Sorry I'm just really unclear about all of this. Do I have to go back for ultrasounds afterwards and if so how often do I have follow up appts? Thanks again!
You're welcome to follow up with additional questions any time. I probably did not address the ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) question you had in your first email. With ICSI, all mature eggs are injected since not all with fertilize. If they only took a few and did ICSI, which I understand some clinics will do, that could impair the number of embryos you have to work with if they don't fertilize.
These are then allowed to divide over a 3-5 day period. An appropriate number is then chosen to transfer. That number is decided between you and your doctor. With frozen embryo transfers, the embryos are thawed, allowed to expand, and if they survive, are transferred. Usually the number thawed are the number transferred because re-freezing is not necessarily a good thing.
If three embryos are transferred, the risk of twins is about 35% and triplets less than 10%. This risk declines as the number of embryos transferred decreases. Because of the high pregnancy rates these days, many clinics have moved to doing a single embryo transfer, or SET, in order to minimize the risk of twins or more. This is based on new recommendations that have come out from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Advanced Reproductive Technology. There has been strong political pressure for IVF centers to reduce the incidence of a multiple gestation (twins or more). If you want twins, then you have to discuss this with your doctor and see if that is something the doctor feels comfortable with. Depending on your age, either two or three embryos would be transferred to try to achieve twins.
Once the embryos are transferred, you do not have to "rest" for any period of time. I have my patients do light activity for three days after the transfer to allow for implantation to take place, but I do not want them to be at bedrest. From that point it is a natural process and is the same that your body would go through if you were trying on your own.
In terms of your last two questions, these are answers that you should be getting directly from your IVF center. You pay them a lot of money for this procedure and they should be giving you almost royal treatment. If they are not, then you should demand it. The IVF process is a three week process, basically mimicking your natural process. The ovaries are stimulated, which takes 10-12 days, the eggs are retrieved at the mid-cycle and allowed to fertilized, then they are allowed to grow in culture for 3-5 days, then they are transferred back into the uterus. 8-10 days later a pregnancy test is done, which usually coincides with the end of the month if you started at the beginning of the month. (You should check out my website and I have an outline of the IVF process.) In the first 10-12 days, ultrasound and blood tests are done periodically to evaluate how you are responding, how many follicles you have, how big the follicles are and when to trigger for the retrieval. These ultrasounds can be done daily, every other day or farther apart depending on how big the follicles are and how close you are to the trigger day (generally as you get closer, the appointments get closer). The egg retrieval is usually done two days after the trigger (35-36 hours from the trigger injection) then the transfer is done 3-5 days after that.
Edward J. Ramirez, M.D., FACOG
Executive Medical Director
The Fertility and Gynecology Center
Monterey Bay IVF Program
Monterey, California, U.S.A.