When Nadya Suleman had an alarming twelve embryos implanted in her womb, she may have thought she was increasing her likelihood of pregnancy. A new study conducted by a University of Glasgow research team challenges that long-held belief.
After looking at over 124,000 IVF cycles, they found that women with single embryo implants had the same chance of getting pregnant as women with three or more embryonic implants. And women with two implants were even more likely to have a successful pregnancy than those with three or more implants.
"Women who have gone through infertility treatment want the best chance of having a baby, but we need to explain that the data shows transferring more embryos doesn't actually do that," the study's co-author, Dr. Scott Nelson told the Washington Post.
The numbers add up like this: women under the age of 40 with two transferred embryos had a 33 percent live birth rate, according to this study. Those with a third embryo implanted had only a 25 percent chance of success. Nelson suspects the high risk of multiples with multiple implantations has something to do with it. Because more embryos mean a greater chance of twins, triplets, and even octuplets (just ask Ms. Suleman), it also means a much greater chance of a miscarriage that could terminate the entire pregnancy.
This is big news for IVF patients over 35, who are routinely encouraged to implant multiple embryos for a higher success rate. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends up to four embryos transfers for women 38 and older to increase their likelihood of pregnancy. There's also no legal limit to the amount of implantations a woman can have. If this study has any sway, that all could change.
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