Elective Single
Embryo Transfer (eSET)

Maximizing the chance of pregnancy while reducing the odds of a multiple pregnancy is a major goal at the Institute for Reproductive Health. With new technology, we now have a safe and efficient way to build your family, one healthy baby at a time.

What is Elective Single Embryo Transfer?

For many years we transferred more than one embryo with IVF in order to increase the chance of birth. A problem with this approach was too many multiple births! As technology has evolved we can now obtain a high probability of pregnancy in some cases with the transfer of a single embryo. This will reduce the chance of having multiple births and all of the attendant risks. The risks of multiple pregnancies include high blood pressure and diabetes for the mother and premature delivery for the babies. Premature delivery is associated with medical risks including lung problems and digestive problems and subsequent developmental problems. If delivery is extremely premature the babies may not even survive. For all of these reasons is ideal to maintain high pregnancy rates while reducing the chance of multiple births. While it is not possible in all cases to transfer a single embryo there are an increasing number of cases were we can do this. Single embryo transfer is the best way to reduce multiple births with IVF.

In What Cases is eSET Possible?

Elective single embryo transfer is highly effective in patients under the age of 35. These patients also need to have high quality embryos that can make it to the blastocyst stage. Also these blastocysts have to be determined to be high quality by the laboratory staff. Assessment of quality is a complex decision based on embryo progression under the microscope and structural analysis of the embryos. Our highly qualified embryology laboratory staff has developed complex protocols that allow us to offer single embryo transfer to many patients. The ideal candidate for this technology also should not have failed numerous IVF cycles previously.

What is the Technology Behind eSET?

Improving the embryo quality is the main technology behind elective single embryo transfer. Several factors have led to improved embryo quality over the last 2 decades. The embryos grow in a culture medium which is a solution of electrolytes and nutrients. Improvements in the embryo culture media have allowed for a better environment for the embryos to develop in a healthy fashion in the lab. Also, the incubator chambers have been dramatically improved and allow for a more physiologic environment for embryo development. In some cases, we also employ PGD to test and transfer genetically normal embryos. Each case is slightly different and we would be happy to discuss the particulars and nature of your case to see if you are a candidate for this new technology.

Is the eSET Associated With the Same Pregnancy Rate as the Transfer of Multiple Embryos?

It is our experience at IRH that in well selected cases, eSET will offer pregnancy rates as high as 65%. In those cases, transferring more embryos will not increase the pregnancy rate. Also, it is important to understand that reducing the multiple pregnancy rate should increase the odds of a healthy live birth.

What Happens to Embryos That Are Not Transferred?

With new cryopreservation technology, the pregnancy rates for frozen embryo transfer is the same as for fresh transfer. Embryos that are not transferred can therefore be frozen and alter utilized. Frozen transfers can be done also as single or double embryo transfers. Some single embryo transfers can be utilized for fresh or frozen embryos.