In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
Introduction to In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
IVF stands for in-vitro fertilisation, it is a fertility treatment where fertilisation of an egg occurs outside the body.
What is In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)?
IVF stands for in-vitro fertilisation, it is a fertility treatment where fertilisation of an egg occurs outside the body. During IVF, sperm and an egg are combined in a laboratory culture dish, where the sperm fertilises the egg. The egg is then able to form into an embryo, which is then placed inside the women and she goes through a normal pregnancy. It is one of many fertility treatments that help people to have a baby if they are struggling to conceive. The very first IVF baby was born in 1978, since then thousands of successful IVF procedures have been carried out.
How is IVF performed?
IVF involves many stages; the first is to suppress the woman’s natural menstrual cycle with medication in order to allow the ovaries to produce more eggs. The development and maturation of these eggs is monitored by ultrasound scans. Once there are enough mature eggs they are collected via a needle, which goes in via the vagina. The woman’s partner’s sperm is collected, or if there are problems with his sperm, donor sperm can be used. The eggs are then mixed with the sperm and are left for a few days in order to allow fertilisation to occur. These fertilised eggs are now called embryos and they are transferred into the womb.
How to prepare for IVF?
Your doctor will give you special medication in order to encourage more eggs to be produced and matured by your ovaries. It may also be helpful to talk to family or friends who have gone through IVF to further understand the procedure. Living a healthy lifestyle, avoiding alcohol, caffeine and smoking may improve your chances of having a successful IVF treatment.
What happens after IVF?
You will be told to take a pregnancy test a few weeks after the IVF treatment to see if it has been successful. The chances of success depend on the age of the woman and what the cause of the infertility is. Younger women are more likely to have successful procedures and subsequent pregnancies. IVF can result in multiple births, such as twins or triples, if several eggs are fertilised, this can sometimes be more dangerous for the mother and the babies. You may also have an ectopic pregnancy, which is where the embryo implants in the fallopian tubes rather than the womb. This is a very dangerous condition and the woman will have to undergo surgery to remove the embryo. Unfortunately some people do not have successful IVF treatments and it can be a very emotional time. You are usually offered counselling to help you through the process. A specialist fertility doctor will be able to offer you more information on the process of IVF.