In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an infertility treatment done when couples are not able to conceive the natural way. In Vitro is the Latin word meaning in glass. The experiments have long been carried out in glass apparatuses in a research laboratory under controlled conditions. In this process, fertilization takes place in a dish, hence the name in vitro. IVF is the process by which a female egg is fertilized by the male sperm outside of the female body, in a laboratory. IVF was first successfully carried out in 1978.
IVF is a treatment available to any couple facing fertility problems and not able to have a healthy baby the natural way. While there are many treatments for infertility, IVF is particularly the preferred treatment in the following cases:
The success rate for IVF treatment will depend on the fertility problem in question. Age factor is a key determinant of the success of treatment. The younger you are, the healthier your eggs, and the higher the chances of success. This, however, does not mean you cannot pursue this treatment at a higher age.
An IVF treatment takes between 4 to 6 weeks to complete. Recently with the use of Antagonist protocol, the treatment duration is much lesser. You only release one egg during normal menstrual cycle. Fertility drugs stimulate the ovaries that develop more mature eggs which are ready for fertilization, giving more chances of getting pregnant per month. The process begins by putting the female on fertility drugs.
This is done by a daily dose of hormone injections for 12 days, which stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs than normal. Ultrasound scan and blood test for hormones are conducted to check the number of eggs produced and to see when the eggs mature.
This simple procedure lasts for half an hour where the eggs are collected from the mature follicles using a scan probe. There is no pain but a little bit of discomfort, hence done under anesthesia and you are provided to rest in the clinic for a while before you can go home.
Now the egg is fertilized by obtaining the sample of sperm from your partner. Eggs are fertilized in a dish and left in an incubator to develop into an embryo in a few hours. They are constantly monitored and you are kept updated about their development. After the third day or fifth day, they are ready for placement in the uterus.
Since more than one egg is fertilized, the developing embryos are graded for quality on the basis of their appearance and regularity. Good quality ones are the ones that will be used. Any surplus embryos are frozen for future use.
This involves transferring the developed embryo into the uterus. Implantation begins three to four days after this stage. A maximum of two embryos can be transferred in any one cycle.
The next step is to undertake a pregnancy test 12 to 14 days after the transfer to determine if the treatment has been successful. An ultrasound scan is performed after six weeks to establish if there is a heartbeat and pregnancy are confirmed. If, however, the process has been unsuccessful, you can take follow-up consultation to explore the options available.
Consistent follow up is necessary to rule out any complications that may arise in the course of pregnancy. If you have been unsuccessful thrice, a free consultation is provided to discuss the future options. Adequate support is provided to take you through the stressful and difficult time.