Embryo Transfers and Success Rates: What Are The Best Practices?

Here we go! The big day. Embryo transfer day, a hurdle for every surrogacy journey. The embryo is being transferred to the gestational surrogate and the magical moment of hopes and modern medicine converge. Everyone is sending “sticky thoughts,” telling you to wear green socks and eat a pineapple. There are an astounding number of superstitions and traditions for transfer day. We know well that the day can get overwhelming and stressful, but try to stay calm, get a little excited, too, and find the joy in the day! There isn’t a magic equation to the embryo transfer process, but we wanted to share some factors that have been proven to increase success rates.

First, having healthy embryos is a major factor in the success of an embryo transfer. The embryo quality starts with a heathy egg and sperm. Fertility clinics set high standards for donors to help increase quality for your embryos. If the egg and sperm of the intended parents are used, the fertility clinic will also conduct a battery of tests before embryos are made. The embryos are made by IVF (in vitro fertilization). Additionally, intended parents can request screenings such as PGS (we’re using the generic term here, it’s also referred to as PGT-A, CCS, PGD and myriad other names depending on exactly what is being done!), preimplantation genetic screening, to determine if genetic or chromosomal disorders are present in the embryos before transfer.

If you have frozen embryos, a frozen embryo transfer success rate can depend on how the embryos were initially frozen. Newer flash-freeze vitrification methods seem to have better success rates than the traditional slow-freeze method. Some doctors will tell you that they have more success with blastocyst embryos transferred at day five rather than morula embryos transferred at day 3. The latest version of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Practice Committee publication states that “a single blastocyst transfer should be the norm”.

Next, the health of the gestational surrogate is an important factor and the team at New Mexico surrogacy take this factor very seriously. We know that by the time intended parents are choosing a gestational surrogate, they are far into the process and a lot of money, time and emotions have brought you to the point. Therefore, our team wants to ensure that our surrogates are held to a high health standard. We have a practicing reproductive endocrinologist (RE) review all previous labor and delivery records and your clinic will have your gestational surrogate complete a one-day workup to rule out any factors associated with reduced success rates before the surrogate starts hormone supplements to get her uterus as ready as possible to accept an embryo. Our gestational surrogates know that they need to be vigilant about medications and making monitoring appointments to ensure the lining of her uterus is ideal for transfer.

Lastly, while many will tell you that embryo transfers are routine, being comfortable and researching to find the perfect doctor for the embryo transfer plays an important role. The experience of a skilled practitioner can make all the difference! Don’t be afraid to “interview” potential doctors, ask about their success rates and if they follow ASRM’s best practices (listed below) until you find the perfect one to carry out your embryo transfer.

ASRM’s best practices:

  • Abdominal ultrasound for embryo transfer 

  • Removal of cervical mucus

  • Use of a soft embryo transfer catheter

  • Placement of embryo tip in the upper or middle areas of the uterine cavity, and 

  • Immediate ambulation (no bed rest) upon completion 

There’s no magical answer to ensuring transfer day is a success. Following the treatment protocol, being calm, limiting stress, acupuncture and looking after yourself (or the gestational carrier) can make all the difference. But we also think it can’t hurt to wear some green or yellow socks, eat some french fries and pineapple and think sticky thoughts! 

If you are interested in more information, don’t hesitate to schedule a free consult with New Mexico Surrogacy today!