Fertility: Review

Is a Blanket Elective Single Embryo Transfer Policy Defensible?

Eli Y Adashi and Norbert Gleicher


For the purpose of reducing maternal and neonatal morbidity, elective single transfer (eSET) in in vitro fertilization (IVF) was first proposed in 1999. The purpose of this review is to summarize recent oral debate between a proponent and an opponent of expanded eSET utilization in an attempt to determine whether a blanket eSET policy, as is increasingly considered, is defensible. While eSET is preferable when possible, and agreed upon by provider and patient, selective double embryo transfer (DET) must be seriously entertained if deemed more appropriate or is desired by the patient. Patient autonomy, let alone prolonged infertility and advancing age, demand nothing less. Importantly, IVF-generated twins represent only 15.7% of the national twin birth rate in the United States. Non-IVF fertility treatments have been identified as the main cause of all multiple births for quite some time. However, educational and regulatory efforts over the last decade, paradoxically, have exclusively only been directed at the practice of IVF, although IVF patient populations are rapidly aging. It is difficult to understand why non-IVF fertility treatments, usually applied to younger women, have so far escaped attention. This debate on eSET utilization in association with IVF may contribute to a redirection of priorities.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2017;8(2):e0022