3-day or 5-day transfer?

Note that the image is nicked from Million Dollar Baby, which is appropriate because our future baby is costing exactly that.

In our IVF orientation, the embryologist stressed that Day 5 transfers (when the embryo has reached the ‘blastocyst’ stage) are where it’s at. They have higher rates of success — so much higher, in fact, that any clinic doing Day 3 transfers probably doesn’t even know what IVF stands for they’re so dumb. But then I hear from other friends going through treatment that their REs and fertility docs are insisting Day 3 transfers are better, that Day 5 transfers are what embryologists in the Stone Age were doing (and yes, I’ve totally researched this — there were embryologists in the Stone Age).

Anyway, I decided to turn to Dr. You-Probably-Have-AIDS-or-Cancer, otherwise known as Dr. Google, and found this page explaining the difference: Basically, it seems that 5-day transfers have better success rates because they’ve progressed further and therefore the embryologist can get a more well-rounded view of whether the cells are dividing on schedule and fragmenting as little as possible. The advantage of a Day 3 transfer, on the other hand, is that the cell may have a better chance of implanting, especially if it’s growing at a slower pace. Also, Day 3 embryos may fare better in the freezer than their Day 5 counterparts, however this could all depend on the freezing technique used at your clinic.

UGH. Do any of you have coherent thoughts on this matter? Seeing as I’m scheduled to get a Day 5 transfer, I really could do with some reassurance that this is the right choice. Yes, my fertility doctor is a man I trust, but he is also a man who has sperm-shaped stress balls in his office and a pile of Crocs by the door.

(Note that the above image is from Million Dollar Baby, which is appropriate because our own quest for a baby is costing exactly that.)

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20 thoughts on “3-day or 5-day transfer?

  1. Wish I could give you some advice, but I’ve always been confused about which is better and I still don’t know. However, I DO love your wicked awesome photoshop job. :)

  2. I have only done 3day transfers. None of my embryos have ever made it to day 5 so I haven’t had any to freeze. My RE takes it on a case by case basis – there is no clinic policy one way or the other. Since I didn’t have many embryos he didn’t want to risk not having any to transfer on day 5. His theory is they may fare better inside of me than in a lab. Women get pregnant with both 3 and 5 day transfers so I don’t know that one is clearly better than the other.

    • This is very good to hear! I’d feel much better knowing that my clinic was making a decision based on my personal case rather than just a pre-determined protocol or whatever…

  3. BAHAHA! I love that picture! I don’t have much to add since we’re at the same clinic and hence getting much of the same info, but during our orientation session the embryologist basically said that with 3-day embroys, either they’re going to make it to day 5 or they’re not. Whether they’re in your uterus or not makes no difference, so you may as well wait to day 5 and see which ones look best. His view was if your clinic is insisting on putting back 3 day embryos because they look sketchy, they probably aren’t going to make it anyway and you’d save yourself the TWW.

  4. I think Day 5 is always the best. I’ve done 5 IVF’s at top clinics and they’ve always try to push for Day 5 on everyone. There are some exceptions were the woman did not produce a lot of eggs and they don’t want to lose that one embryo or two and just go ahead and transfer. Day 5 embryos give a lot more information than Day 3’s and if you have a few it will give the embryologist a better chance to choose the best ones for transfer.

    You have to take a picture of those sperm shaped stress balls!!! OMG! Hilarious!

  5. Love the photo! And the reference (our own maybe-a-baby has the same price tag ;) Anyway, I’d go for the 5 day (that’s what we did) and I agree with Aramis on the reasoning. 3-day transfer is more “natural” but less…vetted, so to speak. The embryos arrive in the uterus in a more similar state to the way a naturally conceived embryo would. Obviously, this would theoretically mean that nature can take over more naturally… ;) 5-day transfers, however, have by definition endured more difficulties (the passage of time in a petri dish, among other statistical hurdles) and therefore are stronger with a better chance of going the distance and being healthy. Also, I don’t know about you, but for me and my hubby, “natural” was decidedly not working for us, so we embraced the science all the way at the best they had to offer. Which, according to my doc and everything I’ve researched is 5-day if you can make it there… Yeah, science!!! :) Good luck!!!

    • Awesome!! Thanks so much for your input on this… We love us some “natural” when it comes to, say, food and the environment, but are definitely a pro-science couple when it comes to babymaking. :)

  6. Your wicked awesome pic was enough to force me to comment. I am no Dr. Google, but I can tell you my experience (and yes this will all give us cancer too, thanks google). I’ve transferred 17 (holy shit I just counted that!) day 3 embryos over 6 ivf/fet cycles. I got one baby. Changed clinics and then transferred 2 day 5 blasts in one FET and got one baby. So I vote day 5 all the way.

  7. Just found your blog! Love your sense of humor! We are doing Day 5, single embryo transfer (if we have at least one ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ blast). My understanding is that ‘only the strong survive’ to day 5, so the one or two they transfer that day are the most likely to result in a successful pregnancy and healthy live birth!
    Looking forward to staying up to date on your cycle! Just posted all of my drugs and cycle plans on my blog if you are interested! So nice to find some people to be ‘in it together’!

  8. I think ultimately, it’s a total crapshoot. The best thing I read about embryos and cell development and which one will end up giving me a baby was by an embryologist who wrote, “I’ve seen a lot of beautiful babies born from ugly embryos”. So Day 3, Day 5…I don’t think there’s enough evidence out there of which one is superior. For all the doctors who swear by Day 5s and nothing but, you’ve got the same number who are saying Day 3s are the way to go.

    Trust in those little embabies. They will be little fighters and they’ll nestle in their nice and good!

  9. Definitely take this on a case-by-case basis. Every situation is unique. How many embryos do you have, are are they doing so far, etc? I, for one, thought we were doomed when the clinic recommended a day 2 transfer because only two of our little guys survived, and they weren’t looking great. Here I sit today 34 weeks pregnant with twins. Trust your gut, and your doctor. Don’t get too hung up on what’s “best” because that may not ultimately be what is best for your situation.

  10. I’ve seen equal success with both 3day and 5day transfers :) It’s a tricky one! I can see benefits for both methods. If you have enough good embryos growing, they will do a 5 day transfer for you, and you’ll be a great shape. If you only have a few, it’s sometimes better to go ahead and put them in the ute, so they can be safe and grow there.

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