Why is multiple embryo transfer discouraged?

While stories of octuplets make for great news stories, fertility doctors advise returning a low number of fertilised eggs to the womb because of the associated complications. The UK regulating body, the HFEA, stipulates that women who are 40 and over can have up to three embryos transferred, but that women under 40 receive a maximum of two – and indeed say clinics should be encouraging their patients to choose a single embryo transfer.

What are the risks of twin and triplet pregnancies?

There are a range of risks to the mother associated with carrying and delivering multiple babies, including hypertension, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and complications requiring a C-section delivery. A singleton baby is usually carried to full term but multiple babies tend to be born premature and underweight. A very low birth weight can lead to, among other complications, respiratory problems, lower IQ and delays in language development.

Surely transferring multiple embryos improves my chances?

It has been shown that replacing two embryos rather than one in women over the age of 40 does lead to an increase in the chance of pregnancy being realised; furthermore, that pregnancy is most likely to be a singleton pregnancy. However, in women under 40, the chance of pregnancy is not increased by replacing two embryos, but the risks of a multiple pregnancy are increased – and, for women under 37, this is even more so the case. During your consultation at her London fertility clinic, female gynaecologist Miss Amanda Tozer will discuss with you the implications pertinent to your individual case, explaining that a woman’s age is not the only determining embryo transfer factor, but the quality of embryos and number of previous failed cycles counts, too. Offering reassurance and one-to-one care, London-based Miss Tozer has guided many couples through this anxious time, ensuring they have all the facts they need to make informed assisted conception decisions.