- After several days of culture, the best developing embryos are selected for the transfer to the uterus
- The number of embryos selected for transfer impacts not only the rate of achieved pregnancies but also the rate of multiple pregnancies
- Embryos are placed into the uterus via a thin catheter
- The embryos which have not been transferred to the uterus are frozen for their future use.

The procedure of embryo transfer usually takes place on day 2 or 3 or on day 4 or 5 (blastocyst transfer) from the day of ovum pick-up. A longer period of embryo culture in laboratory settings (up to day 5) allows taking a better decision which embryos in what number should be transferred to the uterus.

The embryo transfer is a short procedure only a bit more complex than taking a sample for the smear test, and usually causes only slight discomfort. It is performed in ambulatory settings and usually does not require anesthesia.

Before the embryo transfer procedure, the patient should take medications according to the doctor’s instructions (it is important to observe the hours and doses of medications). The date of the procedure as well as the type and posology of the medications is determined by the doctor after the ovum pick-up procedure. Before the embryo transfer procedure, the patient should have full urinary bladder; drinking at least 1 liter of fluid (preferably non-carbonated water) two hours before the scheduled procedure is recommended. If the patient’s bladder is not completely full, this may defer the start of the procedure.

The patient should report for the procedure 30 minutes in advance.

During the procedure, embryos are placed in a special catheter with a special syringe at one of its ends. The physician will introduce the catheter through the vagina and cervix and leave the embryos in the uterine cavity. The embryo transfer can be ultrasound-guided, which allows to control the route of the catheter, and in some cases (e.g. if the patient is not obese and her bladder is sufficiently full) it gives the possibility to confirm whether the catheter has been introduced to the uterine cavity.

After the procedure, short rest is recommended. The ET procedure lasts from several minutes to 0.5 hour. However, the time the patient has to reserve for her stay in the clinic is 2-3 hours.

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Published: 3 November 2015 Updated: 31 March 2017