Fertility struggle is not a straight path—from taking pills, having blood drawn, and ultrasounds are all messy and complicated. Sadness, anger, guilt, and helplessness are all the emotions that pile-up at once when the result is infertility. Infertility is a disheartening term for people dreaming of having a child. In such instances, in vitro fertilization is a ray of hope that untangles these emotions and helps you achieve your dream of having a child.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an effective and common type of assisted reproductive technology that helps a woman to achieve pregnancy. It involves fertilization of the egg in a laboratory and implanting it inside the woman’s uterus. IVF can be performed either with your egg and your partner’s sperm or with the donor eggs and donor sperms.
IVF is never a primary treatment option for infertility unless there is a complete tubal blockage or the woman’s age is over 40 years. IVF can be the right option for you if you or your partner has the following conditions:
- Male factors, such as low sperm count, decreased sperm motility
- Problems associated with the uterus or fallopian tubes
- Problem with ovulation
- Other treatment options have not worked
PREPARATION BEFORE PROCEDURE
Initially, the doctor will review the medical, medication, and family history of you and your partner. You also need to tell the doctor about the medical procedures you have tried for pregnancy. Before beginning the procedure, certain tests are recommended for individuals whose eggs and sperms are used in the procedure. These tests include:
- Ovarian reserve testing: It is done in woman to determine the level of the hormone responsible for the functioning of ovaries, and also to assess the size and quality of the eggs.
- Screening for infectious diseases: You and your partner will be tested for determining infectious diseases, such as HIV.
- Uterine exam: This test will be done to determine the health of the uterus.
- Mock embryo transfer: This test might be done to determine the depth of the uterine cavity.
- Sperm analysis: This test would be done in the man shortly before initiating IVF. It is done to determine the number, size, and shape of the sperms. If sperms are weak or damaged, then a procedure known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (a technique, in which the sperms are injected directly into the egg) is done as a part of IVF.
Once you are eligible for IVF, the doctor will tell you about the number of steps involved in the procedure. You can ask the doctor about the number of embryos that will be implanted. IVF may require more than one cycle to get pregnant, so prepare yourself accordingly.
In vitro fertilization is a multi-step procedure. It includes the following steps:
- Stimulation: IVF requires multiple eggs. So, in this step, the woman will be advised to take certain medicines to boost the production of eggs, prevent premature ovulation, and to prepare the uterine lining for implantation. The doctor will conduct blood tests and vaginal ultrasounds to determine whether the eggs are ready for retrieval.
- Egg retrieval: This is a surgical step, which is done under the influence of mild sedative or general anaesthesia. The doctor will insert an ultrasound probe inside the vagina to identify and remove the matured eggs. This step usually takes about 30 minutes to one hour.
- Insemination and fertilization: On the same day of the egg retrieval, the doctor will collect the semen sample and separate live sperms with dead sperms. The eggs will be then mixed with the sperms. This process is referred to as insemination. If the doctor suspects, the chance of fertilization are low, then intracytoplasmic sperm injection is done. `
- Embryo transfer: In this step, the woman will receive a mild sedative. The doctor will insert a catheter (a long, thin, and flexible tube) into the uterus through the vagina. One end of the catheter has a syringe that contains embryos. With the help of this syringe, the doctor will place the embryos in the uterus.
To increase the chance of pregnancy, at least three embryos are implanted at once. Doing so may increase the risk of multiple pregnancies.
After the embryo transfer, the woman needs to rest for the remaining day. Complete bed rest is not required unless advised by your doctor. In most of the case, the woman can get back to normal activity from the next day. Prescribed medicines must be taken, as suggested by the doctor. Few days after the embryo transfer, the doctor will recommend, a pregnancy test.
The doctor may give you the following instructions while undergoing an IVF cycle:
- Include fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet
- Switch to low-fat dairy products
- Have healthy fats
- Do not eat processed foods
- Reduce the intake of salt and sugars
- Avoid running or other strenuous activities
- Do not lift heavyweights
FACTORS AFFECTING COST
The cost of IVF differs based on the following factors:
- Type of hospital
- Location of hospital
- Overall procedure cost
- Current medications
No, after egg retrieval, insemination and fertilization are done. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are kept under observation in the clinic until the embryo reaches the advanced stage. So, the embryo transfer will take at least two to five days after egg retrieval.
IVF is associated with the following risks:
- Multiple pregnancies
- Premature delivery
- Birth defects
No, do not take herbal supplements or any other medicines during IVF cycles.
The chance of having twins or triplets completely depends on the number of embryos implanted. If a single embryo is implanted, then having twins is impossible. If two or three embryos are implanted, then there is a chance of twins or triplets.
Consuming alcohol after embryo transfer may increase the risk of birth defects. So, it is advised to avoid consumption of alcohol after embryo transfer.