Medical Conditions and Single Embryo Transfer

Single embryo transfer is an In Vitro technique where only one fertilized egg is implanted in the recipient. Like other fertility treatments, including In Vitro procedures where more than one egg is implanted, there are many medical conditions and concerns that come into play with single embryo transfer. Below is a description of the typical types of medical conditions and their potential impact on becoming pregnant.

Recipient’s Fertility Condition

Single embryo transfer can only be performed when the recipient has no medical implications that make her unable to carry a child. To determine this, the recipient must submit to multiple tests and physical examinations to determine that her uterus will permit an embryo to attach itself and grow appropriately. If the recipient’s uterus is unstable, the transfer cannot be performed.

High-Risk Conditions

Certain conditions are considered high-risk in regards to becoming pregnant. Uncontrollable seizures, cancer and other conditions that are serious and affect an individuals’ overall health are usually not viewed as permitting a woman to become pregnant. As such, a woman who has had a serious medical condition should speak with her physician about whether she should become pregnant or if she should consider alternatives.

Even if the high risk condition presents no impediment to a woman becoming pregnant, it may affect her ability to heal following the single embryo transfer procedure. In this instance, a woman could find herself seriously ill or in pain after the procedure with no ability to heal herself. Sometimes, this problem could impede the embryo’s chance to implant itself in the uterine wall.  

Immune System Attack

Sometimes, a woman’s immune system attacks a fetus before or after it implants itself in her uterus. While this occurrence is rare, it usually results in the woman losing the baby. Women with unusual immune disorders or who are currently battling another illness may find themselves unable to become naturally pregnant. In this situation, single embryo transfer would not be advisable because any implanted fetus would be rejected by the uterus.

Problems with Egg and Sperm

While single embryo transfer can assist a couple to become pregnant who are otherwise unable to do so, it will not help a couple that has non-viable eggs or sperm or prevent genetic diseases from developing. The child born from a single embryo transfer procedure is at the same risk of having genetic or other conditions, just as is any otherwise conceived child.

These illnesses include those that increase with the recipient’s age. Studies show that older mothers have higher percentages of children with physical and mental handicaps. Single embryo transfers do not reduce or eliminate the possibility for these handicaps developing. Therefore, even though the procedure may assist an older woman in becoming pregnant, it will not prevent her age from impacting the child, particularly if the eggs used were only recently harvested and not harvested when the woman was younger.