In vitro fertilization, commonly known as IVF is a series of procedures which is used to help with fertility and assist with the conception of a child.
During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology in the modern age. There are many couples from different fields and verticals who have started opting for IVF treatment to bear a child , when they have failed to conceive naturally.
According to reports on the internet, there are more than 8 million babies around the globe who have been born as a result of a successful IVF. In India too, IVF is becoming common and easily acceptable day by day. Well known celebrities like Shilpa Shetty, Karan Johar, Farh Khan, Shahrukh Khan have become proud parents of their little ones through IVF.
Infertility is a very common phenomenon. It affects around 1 in 6 couples.
Success rates of IVF treatment can be misleading.
You may need more than one cycle of treatment.
You are more likely to have a multiple pregnancy with IVF.
IVF Treatment is offered as a primary treatment for infertility to women over 35 years of age. IVF is also recommended to women with health complications and those who fail to bear a child.
Apart from these reasons, IVF treatment is offered to women who has:
Damage or blockage in the fallopian tube of the woman.
Uterine fibroids in the woman
Impaired sperm production by the man
Endometriosis in the woman
A genetic disorder
The first step to IVF is to take medications which can help you ovaries produce eggs which are ready for fertilization. Even if ovulation is normal, fertility drugs are used to produce more than a single egg because pregnancy rates are higher with more eggs.
Once the ovaries have produced enough eggs, the doctor will remove the eggs from your body. This process is known as egg retrieval. An ultrasound is done to visually guide a small needle through the vagina to one ovary and then to the other. This process is usually painless. The needle will contain follicles. The follicular fluids will be removed by gentle suction that carries the egg along with the fluid. This process takes 30-40 minutes.
The fluid from the follicles – that contains the egg – is suctioned by the doctor and taken into a test tube. The number of eggs produced depends upon multiple factors such as aging, response to ovarian stimulation, ovarian reserve etc.
Once eggs reach the lab, experts examine them to determine maturity and quality. Mature eggs are transferred into a special culture medium, placed in an incubator and within a few hours of egg retrieval are fertilized with sperm. The eggs and sperm are stored together in a special container, and fertilization happens.
About 3-5 days after the egg retrieval, 1 or more embryos are put into your uterus. This process is called embryo transfer. The doctor slides a thin tube through your cervix into your uterus, and inserts the embryo directly into your uterus through the tube.
Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos attach to the lining of your uterus.
This is the first step of IVF treatment where the doctor will check your medical history and the reports of your tests. The doctor might ask you to do a few more tests depending upon the requirements which might include blood tests, urine tests and ultrasounds.
The doctor will provide you medications so that your ovaries can release more eggs. Follicle stimulating hormones will be used here.
The eggs released from the ovaries will be collected in this phase. This stage is known as the egg retrieval process. The sperm retrieval process will also be done simultaneously. The couple can either use fresh sperm or sperms which are ready in the lab. The doctor will guide the patient in selecting healthy sperms from the lot. A healthy sperm is one which is neither too thin nor too fat, and has adequate motility.
The next process is the one which is done for fertilization. In this process, the doctor uses microscopes to find out eggs and take them out from the fluid. The doctor fertilises the eggs and sperm in a dish. The fertilisation results in the development of a zygote which later develops into an embryo.
The next stage is where the doctor observes the development of the embryo for a couple of days.
In this process the embryo is transferred to the uterus. The woman will be asked to lie down. The doctor will guide a catheter to the uterus via the cervix, to transfer the embryo.
You will be asked to visit the clinic after 2 weeks. You will need to undergo a test to check your hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone level. If the test detects the presence of hCG in your blood, it means you have successfully conceived. This step marks the end of the process. After this, all you need to do is, regularly go for prenatal consultation to ensure a healthy development of your pregnancy.
IVF works when all other infertility treatments fail.
It can be opted by anybody who is trying to get pregnant.
You can have donated eggs or sperm even if your sperms lack motility.
It works as an alternate process for both male and female infertility.
IVF treatment can often call for health complications in the woman. Risks and complications of IVF Treatment include:
Egg-retrieval procedure complications