In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a complex series of procedures that is used to treat infertility problems in people who are struggling to conceive. It is the most effective form of assisted reproduction.
Every woman and couple have a different situation and it is necessary to undertake a detailed medical history, utilise or perform diagnostic tests and take into account your preferences before designing the right fertility treatment for you.
The most common indications for in vitro fertilisation include:
- Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
- Ovulation problems
- Premature ovarian failure (loss of normal function of your ovaries before the age of 40)
- Severe Endometriosis (presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus)
- Presence of uterine fibroids (benign tumours in the wall of the uterus)
- Male factor infertility, including low sperm count and low sperm motility
- Presence of a genetic disorder
- Unexplained infertility
What is the IVF Process?
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is the act of fertilizing an egg with a sperm cell outside of the body, in the laboratory. IVF is a complicated process that contains many different steps and procedures, each designed to increase the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.
Here’s what a couple goes through during the IVF process:
Step 1: Egg Stimulation
The ovaries are first stimulated using an injection with hormones to produce many eggs at once. The injections can be administered by the patient at home, and starts from Day 2 or 3 of the menstrual cycle. It takes 10-12 days from the first injection to the time the eggs are retrieved.
Step 2: Assess Egg Maturation
The gynaecologist performs a simple ultrasound scan to check on the maturity of the stimulated eggs after some days of stimulation
Step 3: Egg Retrieval
Once a mature egg is observed, it will be extracted from the woman in a day surgery procedure within the IVF centre. This procedure is done under light anaesthesia. From the first injection to the retrieval of eggs, the duration is approximately between 10- 12 days. Don’t forget that every women reacts differently !
Step 4: Fertilisation with Sperm
The collected eggs and sperm are fertilised in an IVF laboratory by an embryologist on the day of the egg retrieval. Eggs that have been successfully fertilised are known as embryos. These embryos are then grown for 3 to 5 days, during which the abnormal or unhealthy ones are weeded out. An embryoscope may be used to create a time-lapse video over these 5 days to monitor the development of the embryos in the IVF laboratory.
Step 5: Transfer of Embryos
The embryo will be transferred back into the woman’s womb in a simple procedure that is done in the IVF centre. This transfer process will take around 10-20 min and does not require anaesthesia.
Step 6: Pregnancy Test
2 weeks after the transfer of the embryo into the woman’s womb, a pregnancy test (blood test) will be done to check if the woman has successfully conceived.