A Question of Embryology

September 1st, 2009 by Ruth Leave a reply »

Prior to embarking on this IVF cycle we had a chat with one of the embryologists at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, where our frozen embryos are stored. We currently have 6 embryos frozen, four of which were frozen immediately on fertilisation, and the remaining two which were frozen at two days old. We wanted to get some expert guidance on what strategy to take with thawing the embryos. After a long chat with the embryologist we decided that our best approach would be to de-frost all six embryos, and try to grow them to the five day (blastocyst) stage. From a batch of embryos that size, you would typically expect one, maybe two, to grow to blastocyst stage.  We would only implant one blastocyst (thus nicely avoiding the risk of twins). Any other good quality blastocysts could be re-frozen.

We liked this approach as it allowed us to find out all about the quality of all our frozen embryos, with no risk. If any didn’t make it to the blastocyst stage, they never would have done, whether grown in the culture or transferred back into the womb.

We went in to our local hospital this morning for an internal scan, to make sure my body was ready to receive an embryo, and everything looks fine. According to our plan, our embryo transfer date is next Tuesday, 8th September. I asked our nurse what the next step of the process is.

“Well, Liverpool will call you on Monday to confirm you still want the embryos thawing, and numbers”

“Hang on, if we’re growing them to the 5-day stage, won’t they need to start the thaw earlier than Monday?”

“Oh no, if the embryos take longer to develop than expected it’ll just delay the embryo transfer date”

“But we go on holiday on Thursday!”

So I contacted the Liverpool Women’s Hospital again to find out what was going on. And they confirmed that my cycle has to be aligned to the age of the embryos. So whilst Tuesday would be fine for two-day-old embryos, if we wanted them to grow to the blastocyst stage we’d have to do transfer on Friday.

When we’re on holiday.


Cue a lot of discussing of options with the embyologist and with each other, with the final decision being that, rather than paying the fee to cancel this cycle, and ensuring that we still get our holiday, we’re going to go back to the more traditional approach of defrosting just two embryos for a two- or three- day transfer on Tuesday or Wednesday next week.

The reason we’re both frustrated about this is that if we’d known at the start of the cycle that this was how the embryo transfer worked, we’d have been able to control my cycle to make the dates work better with our holiday. That is, after all, rather the point of doing a medicated cycle rather than trying to fit around my natural cycle. As it is, it feels like we’re trying to make a last minute decision that may either lessen our chances of a successful pregnancy, or increase our risk of twins. Neither of which is a good thing.

So, we’re progressing. With a rather bitter taste in our mouths.


1 comment

  1. Rachel says:

    Oh yay! New post! Although I do wish it was full of good news. That sounds both frustrating and little traumatic. I wish you all the luck in the world!

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