In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure used to assist with conception and childbirth. During the procedure, mature eggs are removed from the ovaries and combined with sperm in a laboratory setting. The resulting fertilized egg, also known as an embryo, is then placed in the uterus for further development.
IVF or In-vitro fertilization, is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which fertilization takes place outside of the body. This process can be done using a couple's own eggs and sperm or using eggs, sperm or embryos from a donor. The fertilized eggs are then implanted into the uterus a few days after fertilization, allowing the embryo to attach to the uterine wall and potentially resulting in pregnancy.
IVF treatment is a medical procedure utilized for the purpose of helping with conception and addressing infertility issues. It is considered the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology, and involves a series of steps to fertilize an egg outside of the body. The fertilized egg is then inserted into the uterus to continue its development, leading to pregnancy.
IVF treatment may be a viable option if you or your partner have any of the following conditions:
Before opting IVF treatment for infertility, it is recommended to explore other less invasive options such as taking fertility medications to increase the production of eggs or using intrauterine insemination which is a technique where the sperm is directly inserted into the uterus around ovulation time.
The process of IVF treatment usually takes around two months to complete. Women under 35 who undergo the initial IVF stimulation of the ovaries and subsequent transfer of the embryo have a 50% chance of conceiving and giving birth.
Step 1: Medication
During the IVF process, a woman is injected with hormones to encourage the development of eggs. This allows for more eggs to be produced than would typically be the case, increasing the chances of successful fertilization. The goal is usually to produce around 10-15 eggs, and regular ultrasounds and blood tests are used to monitor the progress of the hormones and the ovaries.
Step 2: Removal of Eggs
The next step after hormone injections is to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries through a minor surgical procedure while the woman is under anaesthesia. This is done by using a small needle guided by transvaginal ultrasonography to remove the fluid from the follicles. Similarly, the sperm from the male partner is collected, either through self-ejaculation or through procedures such as TESA/TESE if necessary.
Step 3: Fertilization
After the eggs have been collected and the sperm obtained, the next step is to fertilize the eggs in a laboratory using a variety of techniques, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI treatment).
Step 4: Growth of Embryos
After the eggs and sperm are united in a lab, the embryologists monitor the growth and division of the embryos from two to four to eight cells. The embryos will continue to develop and reach the blastocyst stage, which is when they have 100 or 125 cells, and this can happen up to five days later.
Step 5: Embryo Transfer
During the embryo transfer procedure, an ultrasound will be used to monitor the woman's uterus and a small catheter will be inserted through the cervix into the uterus. The embryo will then be placed inside the uterus.
Embryo transfer can be a fresh transfer meaning the transfer is done in the same cycle as retrieval, or a frozen transfer, which means the transfer is done at a later date when the patient has recovered from the retrieval process. This decision will be taken by the fertility specialist based on the patient's condition.
After going through the stages of IVF, one can return to normal activities. However, it is suggested to avoid any heavy physical activity as it may cause discomfort. The woman needs to go for a blood test after 12-15 days to confirm pregnancy. A possible side effect of the procedure is experiencing mild cramping or passing clear or bloody fluid immediately after the egg retrieval.
However, as with all medical treatments, IVF also comes with certain potential risks and negative effects. Furthermore, the emotional toll of IVF can be significant for the person undergoing the procedure and their loved ones.