In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a technology in which the eggs from the female partner and sperms from the male partner are fertilized in a specialized culture medium. It is commonly known as test tube baby because the process of fertilization occurs outside the body. The embryos that are formed are then transferred back to the female’s uterus.
With pregnancy rates much higher than that of intrauterine insemination, IVF is the most effective fertility treatment available today.
Steps of IVF Process
1. Fertility medications are given to the lady to stimulate egg production. Serial ultrasounds are done to examine the ovaries and monitor stimulation.
2. Eggs are retrieved from the ladies body through a minor procedure. A thin needle is introduced through the vagina and eggs are sucked out under ultrasound guidance.
3. The male partner gives a sperm sample which is prepared for fertilisation.
4. The sperm and eggs are then kept in a special culture dish in the embryology laboratory for fertilization to occur. In some cases, ICSI (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is done in which a single sperm is injected into the egg to ensure fertilization. The eggs are then monitored to ensure fertilization occurs and resultant embryos are formed.
An embryo which has been cultured for 5 to 6 days in the embryology lab is known as a blastocyst. A blastocyst has a very high probability of resulting in a pregnancy after transfer inside a mothers womb.
5. The embryos are transferred inside the ladies uterus through a thin catheter under ultrasound guidance. This is usually done 3 to 5 days after egg retrieval.
After embryo transfer, the lady needs to take luteal support medications to assist in embryo implantation.
WHO SHOULD OPT FOR IVF
- couples who have been unsuccessful with IUI
- women with age-related infertility
- women with poor ovarian reserve
- women with recurrent miscarriage
- women or men who have a family history of genetic defects
- women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- women who are unable to ovulate
- women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- women with endometriosis
- men with poor sperm quality or quantity
- couples with unexplained infertility