What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of assistive reproductive technology (ART). It involves retrieving eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm. This fertilized egg is known as an embryo. The embryo can then be frozen for storage or transferred to a woman’s uterus.
Depending on your situation, IVF can use:
- your eggs and your partner’s sperm
- your eggs and donor sperm
- donor eggs and your partner’s sperm
- donor eggs and donor sperm
- donated embryos
Need for IVF
IVF may be an option if you or your partner have been diagnosed with:
- Low sperm counts
- Problems with the uterus or Fallopian tubes
- Problems with ovulation
- Antibody problems that harm sperm or eggs
- The inability of sperm to penetrate or survive in the cervical mucus
- Poor egg quality
- Genetic disease of mother or father
Questions you can ask from your IVF specialist
- What is your pregnancy ratio per embryo transfer?
- What is your pregnancy rate for couples in our age group and with our fertility problem?
- What is the live birth rate for all couples who undergo this procedure each year at your facility?
- How many of those deliveries are twins or other multiple births?
- How much will the procedure cost, including the cost of the hormone treatments?
- How much does it cost to store embryos and how long can we store them?
- Do you participate in an egg donation program?
Research that you need to do for yourself
- What will you do with any unused embryos?
- How many embryos do you wish to transfer? The more embryos transferred, the higher the risk of a multiple pregnancy. Most doctors won’t transfer more than two embryos.
- How do you feel about the possibility of having twins, triplets, or a higher order multiple pregnancy?
- What about the legal and emotional issues associated with using donated eggs, sperm, and embryos or a surrogate?
- What are the financial, physical, and emotional stresses associated with IVF?
Step 1: Ovulation induction
Your doctor will monitor your ovaries leading up to and during the IVF process to ensure that you will release eggs to be fertilized at a particular time. Most of the time medication or hormones are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce one or more eggs.
Step 2: Egg retrieval
Under light pain medication, your doctor inserts a very thin needle through the upper vaginal wall and remove fluid, which contains eggs, from the follicles of the ovaries.
Immediately after retrieval of the follicle(s), the egg is placed in a dish and transferred to an incubator.
Step 3: Fertilization
A sperm sample is secured, either from your partner or a donor, and analyzed and added to the egg(s) retrieved. Sometimes your doctor may choose to inject the sperm directly into the egg to optimize success. The doctor and embryologist then monitors the fertilization process to make sure a healthy embryo is developed.
Step 4: Embryo transfer
Once your doctor and embryologist determine that the embryo(s) is ready for transfer, you go back for “transfer day”. This is a day full of excitement mixed with anxiety because while you’ve reached the final step of the IVF process, there are still many unknowns. The doctor places a speculum into your vagina and transfer the embryo(s) through a small plastic tube placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity.
You can visit an IVF specialist for consultation before considering about going through with the procedure. Some of the facilities that provide consultation are mentioned below.