What is IVF? IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is treatment to assist couples with fertility problems to have a baby. IVF is a procedure where eggs are fertilized outside the body in the laboratory and then the fertilized eggs are inserted into the uterus to develop. IVF can be an infertility treatment option when the man has a low sperm count, the woman has problems with the uterus or fallopian tubes, or the reason for infertility is unexplained.
How is IVF carried out?
The woman is given a drug to suppress the natural monthly cycle as an injection or nasal spray, to be taken for around two weeks.
A fertility hormone is administered for around 12 days to stimulate the body to produce more eggs.
Eggs are collected by inserting a needle through the vagina into each ovary.
The eggs are mixed with the man's sperm in a laboratory.
The fertilized eggs - embryos - are incubated and then transferred into the womb.
Prior to the transfer, the woman prepares the uterus for the embryo by taking progesterone to thicken the lining.
For women aged under 40, one or two embryos are placed in the womb.
For a woman aged over 40, three embryos are implanted.
How popular is IVF compared to other fertility treatment options? IVF is not usually the first step in fertility treatment. IVF can be a costly and complex procedure, and only around 5 percent of couples with infertility problems carry it out.
What affects the chances of success of an IVF procedure?
The reason for infertility
The age of the woman (the younger the woman, the higher the chances of success)
The experience and ability of the doctors carrying out the procedure
How successful is in vitro fertilization?
The success rate of IVF clinics depends on a number of factors including reproductive history, maternal age, the cause of infertility, and lifestyle factors. It is also important to understand that pregnancy rates are not the same as live birth rates.
The live birth rate for each IVF cycle started is approximately:
41-43% for women under age 35
33-36% for women ages 35 to 37
23-27% for women ages 38 to 40
13-18% for women ages over 40
How much time is required?
One full cycle of IVF takes around 4 to 6 weeks. Egg collection typically takes between 30 minutes and an hour. Following egg collection, you may be asked to rest for a few hours at the clinic but the IVF procedure doesn't require an overnight stay.
What type of anesthesia will be given?
Egg collection in IVF takes place under a sedation anesthesia, or a general anesthesia if it is required.
How will patient recover?
The clinic may advise a short period of rest after egg collection and egg implantation but others will allow you to carry on with normal activities straight away.
What are the possible common complications?
IVF is associated with a few risks.
- Reaction to fertility drugs including hot flashes, mood change and headaches. - Cramps and a small amount of bleeding may occur after egg collection. - Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome. - Ectopic pregnancy. - Multiple births. - Older women are at increased risk of miscarriage and birth defects. - IVF may be less successful with age.
What should be cared?
- Calm cramping after egg collection with appropriate pain killing medication. - Monitor any side effects arising from fertility drugs and consult your doctor if you are experiencing problems.