What is IVF?
IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization and is a method of artificial insemination that dramatically increases the chances of pregnancy. It is one of the assisted reproductive technologies methods used as fertility treatment across the world where other methods have had drastic results.
In simpler terms, a man's sperm is inserted in woman's egg using controlled laboratory environment to proceed with fertilization. These embryos are then carefully put back into the mother's uterus after 4 to 5 days of fertilization in incubator in hopes that the embryo would grow in a full baby. The embryo transfer process needs to be carefully done in order for successful fertilization in the mother's womb.
There are many reasons why IVF is conducted :
- Poor sperm quality - Males having poor sperm quality are unable to achieve fertilization and increase the chances of conception with their female partners. This is male factor infertility due to which people move towards IVF.
- Fallopian tube problems - This is a female factor infertility, in which fallopian tubes either get blocked, or damaged making it complicated and stressful for the embryo to travel to the uterus.
One must approach IVF treatment with patience and a willingness to comply with all the tenets that the treatment is built upon. IVF clinics may vary the treatment a little according to what the patient's condition demands and different clinics may have different methods. The basic methods of IVF treatment however, remain the same. The first step to the treatment is to find the right clinic which complies with factors like availability of resources, cost and quality of treatment. After deciding the clinic, the next step is to understand that IVF treatment happens in cycles and the success rate of conception varies. Patients must also be ready to face any disappointment.
Here’s the short version of the steps involved in an IVF treatment cycle:
- Ovarian stimulation. Your doctor prescribes a course of drugs for you to take to stimulate your ovaries into hopefully producing 12 to 15 mature eggs.
- Monitoring of your drug response. To monitor the progress of your ovarian stimulation you undergo an ultrasound examination and blood tests.
- Egg maturation. Two days before your eggs are due to be collected you have a hormone injection, which triggers maturation of the eggs.
- Egg collection. You receive a light general anaesthetic for this simple, short procedure, and your doctor retrieves your eggs using an ultrasound-guided technique.
- Sperm production. On the day of egg collection, your partner provides a sperm sample.
- Fertilisation. The embryologist puts sperm and eggs together in the lab and, if all goes well, the eggs fertilise and early embryo development begins.
- Embryo transfer. Two to five days after egg collection, your doctor places one or two embryos in your uterus. Frozen transfer can be planned after a gap of 1 month.
- Embryo freezing. If you have additional embryos suitable for use, they can be frozen and kept for future transfers. Also, frozen embryos are available.
- Pregnancy test. About two weeks after embryo transfer you have a blood test to find out whether the treatment worked.
- If the test is positive, you have your first pregnancy scan two weeks later.
- If the test is negative, you and your partner need to talk to your doctor and decide whether to try the treatment again.
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