IVF: embryo transfer

Whether you have had a fresh cycle or frozen cycle the procedures are very similar.


You will have likely started using progesterone pessaries with the first one inserted just after egg collection. The pessaries are normally recommended for rectal insertion until after the embryo transfer. This is due to them leaving a waxy residue which can make embryo transfer difficult if this is in the vagina.

The progesterone is provided to help keep your endometrium (uterus lining).

The procedure

You will speak with your embryologist prior to going down to theatre to discuss the quality and quantity of embryos for transfer. It is recommended for one embryo to be transferred regardless of age to minimise the chances of a multiple pregnancy. (Read here for more information of choosing number of embryos)

You will arrive at the clinic once again and escorted to a cubicle with your partner in attendance. You will require a half full bladder for this procedure and depending on the length of wait can become uncomfortable.

You will walk down to theatre (or wheeled depending on the clinic). You will remove your dressing gown and pop onto the bed. You will be asked to lay down and place legs into the stirrups. Your bottom half will be covered with sheets and your abdomen temporary exposed whilst they pop some lubricant on for the ultrasound scanner. Your bladder will be checked at this stage to make sure it is full. The full bladder helps with embryo transfer. You will feel some slight discomfort from the pressure applied.

Your partner is able to attend theatre with you and they will sit just next to your head and hopefully hold your hand throughout.

The embryologist will repeat several times the process and ask you to confirm your full name and date of birth a couple of times throughout.

You will be shown your embryo(s) on a television screen just before transfer.

Will it hurt?

Yes, it could hurt depending on your personal threshold of pain. For most women the procedure is like a very uncomfortable invasive smear for others its sharp or dulling ache in the lower abdomen.

You won’t be given any medication or sedative prior to embryo transfer.

The transfer

You you have a practice transfer using saline solution before the actual insertion of the embryo(s). This is to check that the tubes are clear. Once you have confirmed your details and seen your embryo(s) on the screen the transfer will begin. You won’t actually feel them insert the embryo(s) as it is so tiny.

Afterwards the tube and vagina clamp will be removed. Don’t feel ashamed if at this stage you feel like you’ve just relieved your bladder all over the bed. It is actually the residual saline flush escaping.

You will be helped off the bed and shown an ultrasound of your uterus before and after the embryo transfer. This may look like a little flash of light on a dark background. You will probably be thinking of nothing other than going to the toilet at this stage so probably I’d your head and go ‘oh yeah, wow’ it’s not that your ungrateful but you are likely uncomfortable from needing a wee so badly.

You will pop back into your cubicle and asked to rest for a little while. Have a drink some biscuits pop to the loo again and the. You will be allowed to return home (or to work).

You will need to continue taking your progesterone pessaries and can start vagina insertion if rectal had caused discomfort from constipation.

You are now on your official two week wait (2WW).

Katherine xo

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