Having a multiple birth (twins, triplets or more) is the single greatest health risk associated with fertility treatment. Multiple births carry risks to both the health of the mother and to the health of the unborn babies. Twins or triplets are more likely to be premature and to have a below-normal birth weight. 20.8 in 1000 twin births involve the death of a child versus approximately 8 in 1000 singleton births. It may seem that the actual figures for twins affected by disability or death are relatively small (for example, the risk of cerebral palsy is 8 in every 1000 twins). However, several studies have shown that twins are between 4 and 6 times more likely to suffer from cerebral palsy than singletons. Both children may be affected, which means caring for two with a disability, as well as lifelong problems for them both.
See the NHS Choices page on cerebral palsy for more information. The risk of having twins is greatly reduced by having single embryo transfer (SET) without significantly affecting your chance of becoming pregnant.
No, single embryo transfer will not halve your chance of becoming pregnant. In fact many women are just as likely to get pregnant from a single embryo as a double embryo transfer (DET).
NHS funded treatment
The policies of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) vary so you should find out whether you’re eligible for NHS funding for any further treatment (for example, the transfer of any frozen embryos from your initial fresh cycle and/or more full cycles of IVF/ICSI) if you do not get pregnant after the first single embryo transfer.
Eligibility Criteria for NHS funded treatment is identical across the whole of Scotland, irrespective of postcode or Health Board. Currently, those who qualify will be entitled to up to two fresh cycles and any subsequent frozen embryo transfers resulting from these cycles.
Eligibility Criteria for NHS funded treatment is identical across the whole of Wales, irrespective of postcode or Health Board. Currently, those who qualify will be entitled to up to two fresh cycles and any subsequent frozen embryo transfers resulting from these cycles
Eligibility is limited to those who have a medically related fertility diagnosis.Privately funded treatment
If you are paying for your treatment, check with your clinic to establish exactly what your treatment includes. You may have to pay for follow-up treatment if it’s not included in the cost of your initial treatment. To be absolutely clear about all the costs involved, ask your clinic for a personalised, costed treatment plan before beginning any treatment. See Funding for more information.
The embryologist uses a system of grading to select the embryo that is most likely to result in a successful outcome. See Embryo grading for more information.
Normally, other embryos that are considered to be of good quality will be frozen and stored in case they are needed in a follow-up treatment, either because the first transfer sadly fails or if it is successful and you return for further treatment later.
Not all embryos survive freezing and subsequent thawing, so when you come to your next treatment cycle, your clinic may advise you to have more embryos thawed than can be transferred. Frozen embryos can be stored for up to 10 years, but this may be extended to up to 55 years if you or your partner are prematurely infertile, or likely to become prematurely infertile
Due to the freezing and thawing process, your chances of having a baby using a thawed frozen embryo are slightly lower than with a fresh embryo. However, your chances of becoming pregnant with a thawed frozen embryo are not affected by storage times.
Normally, women considered to be most at risk of multiple pregnancy are those aged 37 or under, but your clinician will take into account a number of factors when deciding whether you should be offered single embryo transfer (SET). You should talk to your clinician about your particular risks.