European Fertility Trends: A Shift Towards Single Embryo Transfers

European Fertility Trends: A Shift Towards Single Embryo Transfers

In recent findings presented at the 39th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), a notable shift has been observed in fertility treatment practices across Europe. The data sheds light on key developments and trends in assisted reproductive technology (ART) within the region.

Single Embryo Transfers on the Rise

One striking trend is the increasing preference for single embryo transfers during fertility treatments. In 2020, approximately 57.6% of all in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedures in Europe involved the transfer of a single embryo. This figure reflects a modest uptick from the 55.4% reported in the previous year.

A Decline in Multiple Embryo Transfers

Simultaneously, there has been a noticeable reduction in the use of multiple embryo transfers. In 2020, only 37.6% of fertility treatments involved the transfer of two embryos, with a mere 0.2% opting for four or more embryos. This shift aims to mitigate the risks associated with multiple pregnancies.

Impact on Birth Outcomes

The decrease in multiple embryo transfers has led to a decrease in the percentage of multiple births. Singleton births accounted for 88.8% of all ART deliveries in 2020, up from 87.7% in the previous year. The proportion of twins and triplets witnessed a slight decline.

Shift in Treatment Cycles

Although there was a slight decline in the total number of treatment cycles from 2019 to 2020, with 843,776 cycles conducted in 2020 compared to over one million in 2019, it’s important to note that the dataset is yet to be completed. The final numbers are expected to be higher when the complete dataset is available.

ICSI Dominance

The data highlights a continued trend of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) surpassing traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. This shift towards ICSI has been evident since 2002.

Diverse Techniques and Procedures

In addition to single embryo transfers, the data also reveals the utilization of various techniques, such as frozen embryo transfer, donated eggs, preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), and in vitro maturation (IVM).

Fertility Preservation

Fifteen countries within Europe conducted a total of 18,270 fertility preservation procedures, encompassing egg, semen, and ovarian tissue freezing. These techniques often serve cancer patients, both pre-and post-puberty, aiming to enable biological parenthood in the future.

Steady Pregnancy Rates

Clinical pregnancy rates in 2020 for fresh embryo cycles remained steady compared to 2019, with similar figures for IVF and ICSI procedures and those involving donated eggs.

Incomplete Data and Caution

It’s essential to exercise caution when interpreting these findings, as the data is yet to be completed. Notably, some countries, including the United Kingdom and several smaller nations, have not provided complete datasets. A comprehensive analysis will be possible once the full report is published.

In summary, the evolving landscape of fertility treatments in Europe emphasizes the increasing adoption of safer, single-embryo transfer strategies, promoting the well-being of both mothers and infants. This trend aligns with the paramount goal of ensuring patient safety throughout fertility treatments.


European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology