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Sequential Embryo Transfer (SET) – Benefits, Procedure, and Setbacks

Sequential Embryo Transfer (SET) procedure is a process in which two sets of embryo is transferred to woman’s womb on different days at the time of menstrual cycle. The tips for successful sequential embryo transfer include healthy eating, stay active, take folic acid, and vitamin supplement.

One of the much-talked procedures, while one plans for IVF, is SET (Sequential Embryo Transfer). It has become a worldwide trend along with its strong foothold in India. But what it is? Why is it beneficial? Does this have a side effect on your regular IVF cycle? Browse the article to get all the answers.

What is Sequential Embryo Transfer?

Sequential Embryo Transfer is a common and popular technique used in In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In this technique, solid and created embryos are transferred twice to the mother’s womb, on day 2-3 and day 5-6; whichever is considered the best by your embryologist.

This is done to guarantee that the best and quality embryos get implanted in the uterus through the natural process of implantation.

Procedure for Sequential Embryo Transfer

  • Under this procedure of Sequential Embryo Transfer (SET), two sets of embryos (day 2/3 and

day 5/6) are transferred to a woman’s womb within one menstrual cycle.

  • The very first group of embryos consists of the rapidly growing embryos with good quality, which get transferred to the womb after 2-3 days of their formation.
  • After this first batch transfer, the second group of embryos (5/6 days of life) is transferred to the uterus within a few days.

Also, learn about the Embryo transfer procedure utilized during a conventional IVF procedure.

  • This second group of embryos is more mature than the first group and almost reaches the Blastocyst stage of their development.
  • Normally, this sequencing is done to fetch more and more chances of
  • As the second group of embryos is more advanced (Embryo development stages), they hold the extra advantage of attaching themselves easily to the uterine wall.
  • This treatment is beneficial as the first group of embryos releases a hormone called ‘cytokines’ which replenishes the uterus and prepares the ground for better
  • After one or more embryos are implanted, the extra embryos are cryopreserved for future

Is Sequential Embryo Transfer a really good idea?

SET or Sequential Embryo Transfer with IVF procedure demands for an extra cost. Also, as it is not a medically guaranteed procedure, it might not always help you in getting the desired result. The chances of IVF success through SET mostly lie between 30-40%. Also, you cannot trust all the IVF clinics or doctors, as not everyone is equally competent in carrying out the SET procedure with a guarantee. Moreover, it is a risky procedure, which might lead to multiple pregnancies and unexpected miscarriages.

Normally, from the patient’s point of view, SET seems to be a great idea as they are getting the best of both the sets of the transfer. Usually, a patient is happy after the first batch of the transfer only as they consider that the best will survive. However, as the later set of embryos are sent after the Blastocyst stage, they may harm the first set of embryos along with damaging themselves inside the uterus causing miscarriages and added trouble.

However, not all SETs turn into a mistake and there are a huge number of success rates of IVF with the SET procedure. It just takes an effort to get two or three good quality blastocysts rather than transferring them in bulk to fetch better chances.

Is sequential embryo transfer for me?

Sequential embryo transfer technology can be beneficial for you if you have suffered repeated implantation failures. The technique is known to increase the rate of implantation so you may discuss with your physician if they find you as an eligible candidate for it.

Essential tips for the success of embryo transfer

Embryo transfer is an important step in IVF treatment and although it is performed by the doctor and depends mostly upon their competence, you can do your part in making it a success by:

1. Carefully select your doctor:

Know that it is primarily the expertise and experience of the doctor on which the success of the IVF cycle depends. Make sure that you are in the right hands and under the care of the most experienced doctors to keep relaxed during the process.

2. Get multiple embryos transferred if you are above 40 years:

For women above the age of 40 years, it is advisable to have more than one embryo transferred at a time because of the fact that the implantation rate drops down after 35 years of age hence the number of embryos being picked up means better chances of success.

3. Take care of what you eat:

Eat as much healthy as you can with all the nutrients included in your meals. Have a diet that has vegetables, fiber, fruits and nuts in it. You do not have to essentially go after any specific diet plan while all you need is a healthy balanced diet.

4. Folic acid and vitamin supplements are a must:

Folic acid, along with multivitamins, is usually advised by gynecologists to women for a minimum of three months prior to the beginning of the IVF treatment. It is said to be crucial in reducing birth defects and can be taken along with other multivitamins with vitamin D and the rest of the B vitamins.

5. Stay active:

Staying in the bed right after the implantation may not be a good idea at all. Rather being physically active and going for walks can be beneficial for implantation.

How long does the process of embryo transfer take?

It would not take more than five minutes for this process to take place. Once the procedure is completed you are expected to lie down for another five minutes and a short briefing of the important instructions given before allowing to go home. However, you should be mindful of the fact that during sequential embryo transfer, there is more than one embryo being transferred into the uterus hence the time can be a little more as compared to a single embryo transfer. (9)

How long does it take to get pregnant after the embryo transfer?

Usually, during a natural pregnancy, it can take around six day’s time for the fertilization between egg and sperm to form a zygote and then subsequently an embryo. This embryo can further take 6 to 10 days to get successfully implanted in the uterus. If we talk about an IVF cycle, it can take up to 5 days for the embryo to get implanted and pregnancy to begin after the embryo transfer is done.

What are the possible setbacks of sequential embryo transfer?

Since blastocysts with high implantation potential are used in the process, all the embryos may end up getting successfully implanted in the uterus giving way to multiple pregnancies. So women undergoing this procedure are at higher chances of having more than one baby in a single pregnancy.