“Blastocyst” is an embryo that has developed for five to seven days after fertilization and has 2 distinct cell types and a central cavity filled with fluid (blastocoele cavity).
Typically during IVF or ICSI an embryo is transferred to the womb on Day 2-3. But during Blastocyst Culture or Prolonged Embryo Culture, an Embryo is allowed to cultivate in the lab for a longer period of time, so that we can obtain information concerning the vitality of the embryos and determine whether or not they will continue their development.
A blastocyst transfer is a futuristic technique, that works in tandem with a traditional in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure. In conventional IVF, a fertilised egg is transferred to the uterus within four days of fertilisation. However, by incubating embryos for up to six days and letting them develop into blastocysts, the odds of implantation significantly increase. On the sixth day, following a detailed blastocyst assessment, our embryologists pick the two best blastocysts to be deposited inside the womb.
A blastocyst transfer emulates the natural conception process by preparing an embryo to the stage that it would have been at if it had arrived in the uterus, the conventional way. The process is far superior to a pure in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure.
In traditional IVF transfers, an embryo is transferred to the uterus before the uterine lining is fully prepared to receive it. In natural circumstances, an embryo is about six days old when it lands in the uterus. A blastocyst transfer presents the embryo and the uterus with conditions likened to natural conception.
The six-day mark is an effective barometer to measure the health of a blastocyst. A blastocyst that continues to thrive well into its sixth day is likely to survive uterine conditions. We transfer up to two blastocysts into the womb, per IVF cycle. Our embryologists follow a meticulous filtration process to pick the best blastocysts from the available pool.
A blastocyst transfer demonstrates the best results in younger women. If your fertility specialist has determined that you’re a good candidate for in vitro fertilisation (IVF), or if previous IVF attempts have failed on account of hindered implantation, a blastocyst transfer routine may be for you. Women with low healthy egg reserves are excellent fits for blastocyst procedures.
The steps involved in a blastocyst transfer mirror those of an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) routine. The only difference between a blastocyst transfer and a typical IVF procedure is the age of the embryo at implantation. In a typical IVF process, an embryo is about four days old, whereas a blastocyst transfer entails the aging of an embryo to six days.
Egg collection is a painless, plain-sailing routine that doesn’t usually last longer than half an hour. The procedure involves the retrieval of eggs from mature follicles, using a device known as a Scan Probe.
Once we have retrieved a small collection of eggs and sperm from you and your partner, we merge them into pairs, to create multiple embryos. At this stage, you could opt for additional services to improve the quality of the blastocyst. These include preimplantation genetic screening, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and physiological intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Alternatively, you could go for a pure IVF procedure.
The embryos created during fertilisation are preserved in a laboratory incubator until they reach the blastocyst stage. By crossing the six-day mark in an incubator, these embryos are more likely to withstand and thrive in a uterine environment. Only the healthiest blastocysts are implanted into the uterus, with the ones left over being cryopreserved for the future.
When an embryo reaches the six-day threshold, it is called a blastocyst. It is an ideal time for the blastocyst to make an appearance in the uterus at this stage. It is now strong enough to weather the uterine environment, and an embryologist carefully places the healthiest blastocyst inside the uterus. Our ethos is deep-seated in safety and well-being, and we believe in promoting safe, healthy pregnancies. Thus, we transfer a maximum of two blastocysts in any one IVF cycle.
About two weeks after your IVF procedure, you will be invited in to take a pregnancy test. This will gauge the success of the blastocyst transfer. An ultrasound scan will follow once you’re six weeks into your maternity journey. This time, we’ll check for a tiny heartbeat.
If your blastocyst transfer has been fruitful, it’s always a good idea to be thorough with your follow-ups. This could ward off potential complications. Sometimes, procedures that don’t pan out favourably, can be emotionally taxing for hopeful parents. We reach out to couples that have experienced up to three unsuccessful IVF cycles, through individual counseling sessions. These complimentary consultations offer relief and support during such difficult times and present a range of alternative fertility options that can be pursued.
A blastocyst transfer routine could prove worthwhile for couples whose chances of conceiving from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) are considerable. While the risks that are tethered to blastocyst transfer have no bearing on one’s health or safety, there are misshapen outcomes that are possible if the procedure is not conducted diligently. The fertility specialists on Holy Family Hospital are seasoned experts of the blastocyst routine, and ensure that every step is conducted meticulously.
The success of a blastocyst transfer routine pivots on the ability of a selection of embryos to reach the blastocyst stage. Not all embryos may develop adequately to become blastocysts. Sometimes, embryos stagnate at the four-cell stage. In some cases, your embryologist may even advise you to go ahead with a pure IVF procedure, to secure your chances of gaining at least some healthy four-day old embryos, as opposed to no blastocysts at the end of six days.
As with a regular IVF routine, inserting more than one blastocyst could result in multiple births. We ensure that no more than two blastocysts are deposited into the uterus in any given cycle.