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What is an embryo and how is it related to pregnancy?

Image of a blastocyst

One of the most important parts of a pregnancy is the successful development of the embryo – especially in fertility treatment with donor eggs. Read what an embryo is and how it is related to pregnancy.

What is an embryo?

The first weeks of an unborn child’s life, it is called an embryo. The embryo stage starts when the sperm cell fertilizes the egg, and the embryo then develops to form a blastocyst on day five/six. In an IVF treatment, the embryos are usually transferred to the uterus at the blastocyst stage. The blastocyst will implant itself in the wall of the uterus and continues its development. The embryo stage lasts until weeks 10-12 when the unborn child continues developing into a foetus. During the embryo stage, the heart and central nervous system develop as well as physical limbs like legs, feet, and hands.

The difference between an embryo, foetus, and a baby - week-by-week development

The difference between embryo, foetus, and baby is solely based on the development of the unborn child and the number of weeks that have passed since fertilization.

  • Week 0 to 10 – 12: During this period the unborn child is called an embryo
  • Week 12 to birth: After the embryo stage, the unborn child is called a foetus

The unborn child develops immensely from a single egg and sperm cell to a full-grown baby. There are significant changes in your body during the 9 months of pregnancy.

If you want to read more about how your body and your baby develop during pregnancy, then follow the link to our blog post.

Image of a blastocyst

Embryo transfer and fertility treatment

In a natural conception, the embryo has formed, developed and implanted in the uterus when a couple learns about their pregnancy. But in fertility treatments with donor eggs, such as IVF and ICSI, embryo development, transfer and implantation are the most essential parts of the process in order to achieve a successful pregnancy.

Before an embryo transfer can take place, eggs must be retrieved from the woman to be fertilized with the sperm. After fertilization, the embryos are cultured in the IVF laboratory where they hopefully develop into blastocysts around day 5, which then will be transferred to the uterus of the woman. After the embryo transfer, the blastocyst hopefully implants itself into the uterus wall and continues its growth.

Symptoms after embryo transfer

If the implantation of the embryos has been successful and the embryo development carries on, you may discover some symptoms of pregnancy within the first few weeks. It differs a lot from one woman to another, some women may notice signs of pregnancy about two weeks after embryo transfer, but others may not notice any symptoms. The symptoms of pregnancy after an embryo transfer in fertility treatment are the same as the symptoms of a pregnancy conceived naturally. These symptoms can be:

  • Spotting or bleeding
  • Nausea
  • Sore breasts
  • Bloating
  • Feeling tired

No matter whether you feel any symptoms or not, you need to wait two weeks after embryo transfer to take the pregnancy test. If you have any questions, be sure to talk to your fertility doctor or contact our Customer Care Consultants that will gladly answer any questions you might have.

If you are searching for an egg donor to start your fertility journey with frozen donor eggs, then follow the link in the button below to our Donor Search.

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