In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process in which a woman's ovum (eggs) are fertilized outside of the body before being placed into the uterus, in order to increase the chances of having a successful pregnancy. IVF is used for patients who have had difficulty conceiving a child naturally. Infertility problems can be a caused by endometriosis, low sperm count, problems with ovulation, or problems with the fallopian tubes or uterus.
The process begins with hormone injections to stimulate the production of multiple eggs, instead of the usual one per month. The eggs mature, and are then removed from the woman's ovary in a process called egg retrieval. This is often performed under sedation with a needle, and can cause some discomfort afterwards.
Doctors will usually retrieve between 5 and 30 eggs. Sometimes an egg donor may provide the eggs for IVF. The sperm used for fertilization can be from a partner or from a sperm donor. The eggs are fertilized outside of the body, and then carefully selected embryos are placed into the uterus.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is recommended in cases where there are difficulties conceiving naturally. This can be due to problems with male fertility (decreased sperm count or low motility), or problems with female fertility, for example damaged or blocked fallopian tubes or ovulation disorders.
IVF is recommended as an option when there is reasonable chance of success. Candidates should have a healthy weight and a healthy uterus. The chances of success reduce with age, but the oldest woman to successfully have a baby with IVF was 66 years old.
Average length of stay abroad 2 - 3 weeks.
The time needed abroad will depend on the treatment plan, and whether any of the stages of IVF can be done at home. Patients may also begin treatment and then return home or go travelling for several days. Patients are able to fly as soon as the embryo or embryos have been transferred.
Number of trips abroad needed 1
BEFORE YOUR TREATMENT
The IVF cycle begins with a drug to suppress the natural menstrual cycle. This can be administered by the patient, as a daily injection or a nasal spray, and lasts for around 2 weeks. After that, the woman begins using a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which is in the form of a daily injection. This hormone increases the number of eggs produced by the ovaries, and the clinic will monitor the progress. This stage usually lasts 10 to 12 days. Around 34 to 38 hours before the eggs are due to be collected, there will be a final hormone injection which stimulates the eggs to mature.
HOW IS IT PERFORMED
The eggs are collected from the ovaries using a needle with ultrasound guidance, usually while the patient is sedated. The woman is then given hormones to prepare the lining of the uterus for the embryo. The collected eggs are then fertilized in the laboratory and are usually allowed to mature for 1 to 5 days. Once matured, there are usually between 1 and 2 embryos that are chosen for implantation.
AFTER YOUR TREATMENT
Post procedure care
Patients will need to wait for around 9 to 12 days before pregnancy can be detected. If the test is done earlier than this, the results may not be accurate.
Possible hot flushes, mood swings, headaches, nausea, pelvic pain or bloating.
GOOD TO KNOW
It is difficult to give an exact success rate for IVF, as it depends on a number of factors, including the age of the patient and the underlying fertility issues. A recent report found that pregnancy was achieved, on average, in just under 30% of all IVF cycles, with live births in slightly less than 25% of all cycles. However this figure varies substantially - a woman under 35 years old who has IVF has about a 40% chance of having a baby, whereas a woman over 40 has an 11.5% chance.
Not Recommended for
Patients over 45 (success rates are significantly reduced over 40)
Patients with congenital or developed uterine abnormalities which prevent the embryo from implanting
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome