In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an infertility treatment for those couples who have a hard time conceiving naturally. It is one of the most practiced infertility treatments and it’s a very promising technique. In this assisted reproductive technology (ART), the egg and the sperm are fertilized outside of the biological system hence named – In Vitro(outside) Fertilization. To date, more than 5 million babies have been across the world through IVF treatment process.
Who Can Get IVF treatment?
The success of IVF treatment lies in the fact that it can aid many infertility causes. Moreover, it is a preferable option for couples who want to conceive on their own and not opt for other options like surrogacy, donor sperm, etc.
IVF is a great help for conceiving in:
- Women with PCOS/PCOD,
- Women with damaged fallopian tubes,
- Low sperm count in men or other male infertility,
- Women with Endometriosis, etc.
How does IVF work?
In this technique, the eggs get manually procured from ovaries and fertilized with the sperm in the lab. After fertilization, the embryo (fertilized egg) gets placed back inside the uterus so it can embed itself into the uterine lining for the fetus to develop.
Although it is easy to comprehend, IVF treatment is a complex process constituting various steps.
For better understanding, let’s follow IVF treatment process step by step.
Step by Step Guide for IVF Treatment Process
IVF Treatment process is comprised of Six common steps:
- Follicular Aspiration or Egg Retrieval.
- Testicular sperm aspiration or Sperm collection.
- Insemination or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (fertilization).
- Embryo Development.
- Transfer of Embryo(s) back into the uterus and implantation.
A lot of times infertility in women is caused due to production of unhealthy and insufficient eggs.
In superovulation, women are given drugs – containing Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing hormone (LH). This drug helps to produce more than one egg per month. More eggs mean a higher chance of getting healthier eggs.
Your obstetrician and gynecologist will refer to the pelvis or transvaginal ultrasound and blood tests to examine your ovaries and hormone levels throughout the cycle. The process begins on the first day of your monthly menstrual cycle.
The medication can be prescribed as oral drugs and injections depending upon your treatment plan. The dosage and timing of medication are very crucial for this process, therefore you must follow your Doctor’s guidance.
Towards the end of the superovulation, the eggs are predisposed to ovulation with the help of a hormonal injection.
2. Follicular Aspiration or Egg Retrieval (EPU)
The matured eggs must be retrieved before ovulation. You’ll be given specifications for when to take the injection for the last step of stimulation during superovulation. And you’ll have to visit your fertility clinic for egg retrieval per instructions.
Follicular Aspiration is a technology-guided minor surgical process to remove eggs from ovaries.
For this procedure, you’ll be put under anesthesia and your doctor will use transvaginal ultrasound to conduct a needle into your ovaries to suck out the eggs from follicles one by one. An average of eight to fifteen eggs are retrieved per EPU.
3. Testicular sperm aspiration or Sperm collection
Alongside your egg retrieval, the sperm sample is also collected from your male partner. You can also choose donor sperm as per your choice.
The collected sperm sample is put through a series of tests and processes to filter out the healthiest ones. In the lab, the sperm sample will go through a high-speed wash and spin-cycle before scientists can pick out the best ones under a microscope. Once the quality sperms are chosen we move on to the next step.
After the healthiest eggs and sperm are collected, the eggs are cultivated in an ideal environment. The eggs are then inseminated with sperm. The process of fertilization can be done either via standard natural Insemination – where eggs and sperm are left together to fertilize naturally, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – where sperm is directly injected into the egg. The method of Insemination depends upon your specific treatment plan.
After Insemination, the samples are placed in a culture incubator for fertilization. Fertilization could take about 17-18 hours. Once fertilization is completed, it develops into a healthy embryo(s).
5. Embryo(s) Development
The proper embryo(s) development takes place about 5-6 days. The embryo development is monitored closely, and when the embryo(s) reach the blastocyst stage they are ready for implantation.
While the embryo is developing, you’re given medication to prepare your uterus for embryo transfer.
6. Embryo(s) transfer into uterus and implantation
Once embryo(s) are developed, you’ll be visiting your fertility clinic for the embryo transfer process.
Your doctor will place Multiple embryos inside your uterus via cervix with the help of a catheter. It only takes about 5-6 mins.
After that, the embryo(s) will implant itself on the uterine lining – implantation. It can take more or less than 5-6 days for the implantation process to start.
If the embryo(s) successfully implants itself into your uterine lining and starts to grow then within two weeks your pregnancy can be detected.
You’ll be timely referred to blood tests to check your hCG level. If hCG is present in your bloodstream then – YOU ARE PREGNANT, CONGRATULATIONS!!
What are the different scenarios in IVF?
IVF is not a completely manually controlled technique. Different scenarios can take place:
- Multiples: more often multiple embryos end up implanting and grow into your uterus leading to multiple pregnancy. It is quite common in IVF.
- Sometimes for various reasons IVF does not work out. It is not completely due to the failure of the procedure but rather the failure of some step(s) during the procedure. Therefore, you might have to go for more than one IVF cycle. In a study, it is found that, for about 1.5 lac women, the success rate of the first IVF cycle is 29.5% – which is quite high. The overall success rate is about 65.3%.
If you’re looking for more of a natural infertility treatment then IVF treatment is a great option for you. It has a high success rate and low risk. Not to mention IVF is an affordable treatment for many seekers. Even if your first IVF cycle fails, you still have an equal chance of getting a positive result in your next cycle. Always follow your Doctor’s guidance and share your comfort and discomfort with them. Each step of the treatment is crucial and should be implemented with care and experience.