Embryo Transfer

What to Expect on Embryo Transfer Day


3 min read

The day is here, it’s embryo transfer day! It is an exciting and anxiety provoking time to finally be trying to get pregnant using your embryos. Each clinic functions a little differently, but there are some general rules to follow and things to ask your clinic. Here is a breakdown of what to expect before, during, and after your embryo transfer. 

Pre-Transfer Instructions

One of the first instructions that you will receive regarding transfer day is that you will need a full bladder. Typically, it is recommended that you drink a full bottle of water or other drink of your choice (around 16 to 20oz).


Some people find it helpful to arrive to their embryo transfer appointment a little early to be able to drink water in the lobby leading up to your appointment time. That way you don’t have a full bladder on the ride into the clinic!

It’s definitely uncomfortable to have a full bladder, but it is important to do because a full bladder makes your uterus more visible and easily accessible during the transfer procedure. 

Another thing to remember is if you take vaginal progesterone, ask your clinic if you need to either hold off on your morning dose or bring an extra dose with you to the clinic. Depending on your medication schedule, you may need to alter it slightly to accommodate your transfer appointment. 

Unlike your egg retrieval, you can eat before your embryo transfer procedure. There are no restrictions for eating and drinking the night before or the day of your procedure because there is no anesthesia involved with most embryo transfers. Also, because there isn’t anesthesia involved, you are able to drive yourself to and from the transfer appointment and do not need a chaperone to sign you out. 

If your transfer requires anesthesia, make sure to confirm your pre-transfer instructions with your clinic as you will likely have additional restrictions and requirements.

During the Transfer Procedure

The transfer procedure typically is quick (about 30 minutes) and mostly without discomfort, aside from the full bladder! Before your transfer procedure starts, the embryology lab will confirm your identity to positively identify your embryo. Then they will draw up the embryo in a thin plastic straw-like catheter that will be used during the transfer. Meanwhile, the doctor will insert a speculum into the vagina to view the cervix. It is common for the doctor to swab the cervix and vagina with a cotton swab soaked in saline or the embryo culture media. Next, under ultrasound guidance, the doctor will thread the catheter through the cervix and view it on a screen to determine the correct position to deposit the embryo. Once the embryo is placed in the uterus, the lab will reexamine the catheter to confirm that the embryo is no longer there. After it is confirmed that the embryo was successfully transferred, you will be allowed to empty your bladder. After that, the transfer process is complete! 

Post-Transfer Instructions

There are a few common recommendations for after transfer. The first, and probably most important, is to continue all of your medications as prescribed by your doctor. It is also typically advised to avoid hot tubs, very hot baths, saunas, and steam rooms. Recommendations for sex and exercise can vary from clinic to clinic, so make sure to check in with your clinical team for instructions on when you can resume these activities. 


After your transfer, you should start following the normal recommendations and restrictions that you would if you were pregnant (fingers crossed!!). This would include avoiding alcohol, drugs and tobacco, minimal caffeine intake, and avoiding foods like raw meat and fish, unpasteurized cheeses, and deli meats.

To confirm whether or not the transfer was a success, your clinic will give you instructions to have a beta-hCG (beta human chorionic gonadotropin) blood pregnancy test drawn between 9 and 14 days after your transfer. Once you have the results, your clinic will give you instructions on next steps for medications and any further follow-up appointments.