Embryo transfer

The anticipation, anxiety and excitement of this whole process is taking a toll on my sleep. It’s really difficult to get a good night’s rest when I have so many emotions all at once, especially ahead of the embryo transfer! Plus I am in the middle of semester finals. Yikes!

I put in a half day’s leave for our appointment at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic yesterday. The embryo transfer was only scheduled for 2pm, but I opted to work a half day – I didn’t want to sit at home and twiddle my thumbs in anticipation.

We arrived a whole 50 minutes early, because I insisted on leaving early. I thought it better to be early than run into unforeseen traffic and be late for such an important appointment. Plus, I think the excitement just got to me! The problem was that I had to arrive for my appointment with a full bladder. Sitting for any length of time with a full bladder is not fun. It was a small inconvenience in the bigger picture though.

Dr Thabo Matsaseng was running slightly late, but he was considerate of my discomfort and bumped us ahead of the couple who were meant to see him before us (after asking them first). We went down to the maternity ward to the same lab/room where the aspiration took place on Monday. The fertility team are so nice and chatted to us while we waited for Evelyn, the embryologist. KB was allowed in with me this time. He had to wear a hospital gown over his clothes and disposable shoe covers. I had to disrobe from the waist down and change into a hospital gown too. KB asked one of the team members about the 4 large family portraits that hang on the wall. We were told that they are some of Tygerberg Fertility Clinic’s first success stories from the early 1980s.

Grading the embryos

Dr M and Evelyn gave us the run down. 2 of the 3 eggs that were aspirated earlier this week had fertilised successfully, Evelyn ran us through the outlook. She explained that once each egg is injected with a single sperm cell, they are monitored to see whether or not fertilisation has taken place. If the cells have multiplied after a day or so, then the egg was successfully fertilised.

The embryos are monitored and graded in 2 ways before they are transferred on the 3rd day (if they are viable):

  1. The embryos are judged on a scale of 1 – 5, 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. A 1 or 2 won’t be considered for transfer, they need to be at least a 3.
  2. The number of cells, there must be 6 – 8 cells. At least 6 are required and 8 being the best outcome.

Our 2 embryos were both at 8 cells “big”, with one being a 4 and the other being a 5. This was great news! Dr M then discussed with us that he was going to transfer both embryos. We asked whether it was possible to do one at a time and save the other for later use if this transfer wasn’t successful. Dr M advised against it and explained that the average success rate of an embryo transfer for someone my age, etc. was roughly 35 – 40% (if I remember correctly) for one of the 2 embryos to attach successfully. So it really doesn’t make sense and it’s not efficient or cost effective to only transfer one. He also said that the probability of twins is only roughly 20% according to their stats.

The transfer

To do the embryo transfer, Dr M used a speculum and a special instrument to access my uterus. He showed us every step on the sonar and explained what we were looking at and what he was doing. He really included KB in the whole process, which was cool, because it’s been all about me for the most part. The embryo transfer only took a couple of minutes and didn’t hurt at all, which was a relief. I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous following the slightly painful aspiration earlier this week.

And now we wait 10 days before I have to go for a pregnancy test (blood test) at PathCare. They will send the results to Dr M who will then contact us with the outcome.

It’s difficult to put into words how excited but apprehensive I feel at the moment. Because on the one hand: I might be pregnant. On the other hand: I might not be. I am a pretty positive person, so trying not to get excited at the prospect of having a child is really really hard. It’s going to be a long 10 days…

Read more about our fertility treatment journey at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic here.

{Header image is an actual photo I took inside Tygerberg Hospital.}



  1. Wow….fingers & toes crossed 4 ur two peas 2 b sticky ones! I’m so excited 4 u and I don’t know u..my husband thinks I’m crazy lol.
    Just wanted to know though without being too intrusive…by % how much more cheaper is IVF @ Tygerberg since I got a rough quote from Cape Town Fertility of R60000 (without the pre-implantation genetic testing we need).

    • Hi Robin! We also did some research with a private fertility clinic and got a similar astronomical quote, which is why we opted for Tygerberg instead. It’s hard to say what the costs are, because firstly, Tygerberg bill you according to you income. And secondly, it depends on your situation and treatment what the costs will be. But I estimate the ballpark figure is roughly R8 500 – R12 000 per round for ICSI. Tygerberg Fertility team are really upfront about costs once you go for a consult and they assess you/your circumstances. I’m not sure what pre-implanting genetic testing is or whether this is somethig that they offer at Tygerberg, but you can chat to the team there for better info.

      I plan on doing a round up post re costs and pros and cons of the process at Tygeberg once we get a positive outcome, so keep an eye out for it!

      And you’re not crazy… LOL! Us gals must stick together

      • WoW that’ll be awesome, I will definitely keep an eye out for it…!

  2. “Because of your age they transferred both.” Please remind me how old you are.
    And now we wait ten days plus however long PathCare will take. *Gulp *

    • Hi Thandi – age is only one of the factors (all factors of my situation would likely play a part), but I’m your age I think… currently 37, but will be 38 in November 🙂

  3. All the best and thank you Lord for a BFP coming soon…thinking of you guys.

  4. Hi nicky!
    So its been such loooooong journey, but I have been referred to dr. Thabo by previous fertility clinic,for IVF. This clinic have pre-prescribed me with clomid, and advised to start using the meds, once dr. Thabo has advised he is able to see us.
    He texted me back and asked me, to text him the first day of my July cycle.
    Do you know if this means he will go straight to ivf first cycle since I was referred? Or would he first see us for consulation?
    We are so confused, but excited!
    Your journey has been so relatable!
    Then one more thing, were you also on clomid for ivf cycle, and only injectables to trigger egg release?
    Would love to just chat to someone and get clarity, and it doesnt seem like that is a convo over sms with dr.thabo (blush face)
    Thank you!!
    Holding thumbs, not long now!!!!

    • Hi Chloe – I can relate to the loooong journey bit – We’ve been trying to get this far since 2015! I did ICSI with Dr Matsaseng and not IVF, but what I must point out is that I’m not infertile, nor is my partner KB. We chose this route as opposed to reversing his vasectomy. That being said, it’s still been an emotional and anxiety-riddled journey. I am not sure what your situation is and am hesitant to discuss the meds that I was prescribed, as I am not qualified or knowledgable enough to talk about it. But I can tell you that it wasn’t Clomid. I think it’s best to SMS Dr M on Day 1 of your cycle, as instructed. He will then give you a date and time to go and see him (It will be within a day or so of your Day 1 SMS to him). When you see him, you can discuss your situation and the pre-prescribed Clomid with him – He will be able then to advise on the next steps. I know this doesn’t help you much, but take solace in the fact that he is friggin’ amazing and such a nice guy, I’m sure you’ll love him. It’s a very nerve-wracking thing to do this whole fertility business, but hang in there and wishing you all the love and success for your journey with Dr M and the team at Tygerberg Fertility Clinic. And thank you for the thumb-holding and kind words 🙂 xx

  5. Alright. This week brings us to ten days since transfer. How are you feeling about your blood test coming up? Have you been able to distract yourself or are you counting down the hours?

    • Hi Thandi ! I have done the test and feel pretty good about it, just waiting for results now! I’ve been writing semester exams (I’m in my 3rd year of a BA degree, I study part-time) so that’s been a good distraction for the most part 🙂 Will keep you ladies posted! x

  6. Hi Nikki
    I have been reading through your articles regarding your IVF process at Tygerberg. I am so grateful for all the info you have supplied. I too need IVF (both tubes blocked). We have been given an appointment with Dr M for next month. We have pretty much done all the tests, (hsg, semen analysis) etc and was just wondering how long a process it is from your first consult with Dr M to when you actually start your meds and have egg retrieval?

    Any advice would really be appreciated.

    • Hi Rafieka! I’m so glad my blog posts have been of some help as far as knowing more or less what to expect 🙂 Once we got the ball rolling with Dr M after the testes biopsy last year and we were ready to go ahead ( we delayed about a year to save money and try to get the bulk of my studies behind me), it has taken a month to get to the point where I’m at, which is embryos transferred ~ Eeeep!! and waiting for pregnancy test blood results. But my situation may be different to yours, as we are very lucky to not have specific fertility issues. We chose this route as opposed to reversing my partner’s vasectomy. Dr M will be able to give you a better estimation of time lines once you’ve had a consultation with him, as I’m not sure how busy he is or how he schedules the appointments. Be sure to ask any questions you want answers to. I found that I got so overwhelmed by the appointment that I would forget to ask things, so I started writing them down and before I left the appointment I checked that I had all the answers I wanted. Wishing you ALL the luck for your appointment! x

      • Hi Nikki
        Thank you sooo much for your reply 🙂 My Husband and I are so excited that we received an appointment date so quickly. Our Gynae has prepared a referral letter with all the tests that i have done as well as surgery history to have the tubes opened. I am hoping that things move along quite quickly. Its been a long journey to get here. I am hoping that the fees are not too steep as we have paid out so much already and are pretty much tapped out. I read that Dr M gave you a script to purchase your meds at a pharmacy. Were the meds very pricey? I wish you the very best of luck with your awaiting results 🙂

        • Hi Rafieka!

          We were also very excited to get going, so I understand how you must feel!

          I plan on doing an overall post re costs, etc. when all is said and done, but in the meantime I can tell you that the meds have amounted to roughly R3 500 – R4 000. Bear in mind that your treatment may not be the same as mine and the cost and amount of meds prescribed could differ, as we don’t have fertility problems in the traditional sense. Other costs you’ll need to consider are the ICSI needle and the actual transfer process (the cost of which is determined by whether or not your transfer lands on a weekend or public holiday).

          Please don’t take the cost estimate I’ve give for the meds above as gospel, your costs could vary. Getting the info from the Tygerberg Fertility team would be the best option.

          Thank you for the well wishes, we are very excited!! And holding thumbs that your journey is smooth and successful too x

  7. Hi Nicky,
    I trust that you guys are doing well. Waiting in anticipation for your next update on results…I start my 1st round of IVF as soon as AF decides to show up…the tart is messing with me this month…lol!!!

    • Hi Ladybird! I’ve been a bit preoccupied with studies (my Needful Things post May was rescheduled!). I’ll do an update as soon as I’ve got results and have a sec!

      Oh man, isn’t that just murphy’s law as far as waiting for AF and then having to be extra patient! Sooo excited for you! Will keep all fingers crossed that you can start soon! x

  8. Hi Nicky,
    I stumbled over your blog today as I am also looking into IVF this year. Am I being silly or did you have a post about before the embryo transfer perhaps where you explain the process after the testes biopsy and before embryo transfer?

    • Hi Kesh – Yes, I shared the whole journey 🙂 If you look for “Journey to Parenthood” under Topics (found on the right of the screen if you are on a laptop/PC or scroll to the bottom of you are on a cellphone), you can read all my fertility-related posts. They are ranked newest to oldest from the top of the screen down. I hope this makes sense?

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