At one time, twin sightings were a rare occasion, but due to the rise of both IVF and the use of fertility drugs, twins and even triplets are a much more common occurrence and it isn’t unusual to now know of families with a set of twins or to see parent’s pushing double strollers down the street along with their first-born toddlers. The increase in twins and triplets is partly the result of the multiple-embryo transfer (MET) approach to IVF which leads to multiple gestations, though some patients are sometimes not aware of the many risks involved when taking this approach, particularly if they are not informed by their doctors. In her popular New York Times column “Personal Health,” writer and journalist Jane Brody recently examined IVF practices in a two-part series, the first of which provided an overview of multiple-embryo transfer IVF and its complications. (Read the full article entitled, “Some IVF Experts Discourage Multiple Births” here.) Brody notes that approximately 40% of IVF births in the U.S. were multiples, and while it may seem like common sense to transfer multiple embryos as a way to up the odds of a successful pregnancy, this approach actually puts unwanted stress on mothers and babies, placing them at risk and increasing health care costs for an already expensive procedure. Complications from twin or triplet pregnancies—a direct result of the multiple-embryo transfer approach—include premature birth, miscarriage and for the mother high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia and the likelihood of a caesarean delivery, to name only a few. In an effort to avoid the risks that can come with multiple implantations, experts in the IVF field have increasingly turned toward single-embryo transfers.
At Hanabusa IVF, our fertility specialists have always been committed to the health and well-being of the mother and have long been advocates for quality over quantity, and agree with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advisory that Brody sites in her article which states that “ ‘electively’ transferring just one embryo at a time can achieve high pregnancy rates with less risk to babies and mothers and a drastic reduction in multi-fetal pregnancy.” In addition to recommending single embryo transfers, we use minimal medications so that the transfer procedure is as stress-free and natural as possible. Our Japanese non-invasive, minimal stimulation approach to IVF involves single-embryo transfer (SET) thus reducing the risk of multiple gestations so as to avoid the problems that can come with twin or even triplet pregnancies and births. A successful pregnancy also depends on the viability of the embryo, and during the SET procedure we can perform preimplantion genetic screening (PGS). This allows us to test for chromosome irregularities in embryos, minimizing the risk of abnormal development and miscarriage. PGS allows us to accurately assess whether or not a particular embryo will lead to full gestation and ultimately toward a healthy birth and so optimizes the success of the single embryo transfer approach to IVF.
Rather than relying on multiple-embryo transfer which puts both mother and baby at risk, our San Diego fertility clinic’s Japanese non-invasive, minimal stimulation approach comprised of SET and PGS ensures an IVF experience that places priority on the optimal health and well-being of the mother and baby.
Next, we will address part-two in Jane Brody’s New York Times IVF series—age and IVF.