How multiple pregnancies can be prevented

Mother and young babyYour clinic will likely recommend single embryo transfer (SET) if it is considered to be the best option for you, and if the staff are confident that the embryo they select at time of transfer, is healthy and likely to implant. If you have more than one embryo transferred you are more likely to become pregnant with twins or more risks.

How does single embryo transfer work?

The procedure for SET is the same as that for conventional IVF or ICSI, the only difference is that only one embryo is transferred.

For more information on how IVF and ICSI work visit the HFEA website.

Why consider single embryo transfer?

If you are a suitable patient, single embryo transfer (SET) has been shown to largely remove the risks of multiple pregnancy without significantly reducing your chance of having a baby.

The issues to consider are:

  • Multiple pregnancy can have serious, even fatal consequences for both mother and baby. Multiple birth is the single biggest risk to the health and wellbeing of children born after IVF. Find out more about the risks.
  • Research from other countries that have used SET more widely, and for longer than the UK (such as Sweden), shows that SET can be just as successful as multiple embryo transfer.

The expert says...

Alun Elias-Jones"Multiple births as a result of IVF increase the risks of death and disability, not only from the more complex pregnancy and delivery, but also from prematurity. The best way to ensure a healthy baby and avoid the trauma of neonatal intensive care is by single embryo transfer."

Dr Alun Elias-Jones, Consultant Community Paediatrician, Leicester

EmbryoIs single embryo transfer right for me?

Single embryo transfer (SET) is the best option for most patients however it is not suitable for everyone. Your clinic will advise you on the best option for you and will take into account your age, the quality of your embryos and the number of previous IVF cycles you have had.

Other factors may affect your clinic’s recommendation, such as whether you suffer from any pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, endometriosis or tubal disease, so you should always discuss any concerns you have with your clinician.

Research and evidence

Research the risks and benefits of single embryo transfer yourself.