In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilising an egg by combining it with the sperm, outside the body. This process is also called as an assisted reproductive technology (ART). The resultant embryo is then transferred into a woman’s uterus for the rest of its growth.
IVF is a treatment method infertility or if there are existent health/genetic issues in one of the partners. IVF is generally suggested in the following cases:
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage:
The fallopian tubes are the tubes which connect the ovaries to the uterus. If there is a damage or blockage in the fallopian tube, the eggs are unable to travel to uterus making the fertilisation of eggs difficult.
- Ovulation disorders:
If a woman suffers from infrequent or absence of ovulation, fewer eggs become available for fertilisation leading to failed pregnancies
- Premature ovarian failure:
Sometimes, the ovaries lose their normal functioning before 40. Such a condition is termed as a premature ovarian failure which also hinders the process of fertilisation.
Endometriosis is the condition in which the tissue that is present in the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus — often affecting the function of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.
Fibroids are composed of smooth muscle cells and fibrous connective tissues in the wall of the uterus. Fibroids interfere with implantation of the fertilised egg.
- Unexplained infertility:
In a few cases, the reasons or causes remain elusive despite the investigation.
- A genetic disorder:
If you or your partner is at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to your child, you can choose an IVF procedure to avoid it. In IVF, after fertilisation, the embryo can be screened for specific genetic disorders. The embryo detected with genetic disorders are discarded and others are transferred to the uterus. This is helpful in eliminating the genetic disorders in your offsprings.
Steps in an IVF process:
While each health care institute may differ in the actual procedures, the following are the major steps involved in an IVF cycle:
- Ovarian stimulation through hormone therapy
Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are injected in the body of a woman to stimulate the production of eggs. In a normal cycle, only one egg is produced per cycle. But with an IVF cycle, the ovary is stimulated to produce more than one eggs.
- Collection of eggs
The eggs generated in the previous step are harvest through a modern ultrasound technology. The woman is sedated during the process, and a needle is passed through the vagina to collect the eggs from the ovaries
- Collection of a sperm sample
The sperm sample is collected on the same day as the collection of eggs
- In vitro fertilisation
The collected eggs and sperms are combined in a lab with a controlled environment.
- Transferring the fertilised egg to the uterus
Healthy embryos are identified and transferred using a catheter through the uterine cavity into the uterus.
The following checkup is done after 2 weeks days to determine the pregnancy status.
FAQs of IVF:
Listed below are a few frequently asked questions about IVF:
How long does it take from start to finish for IVF procedure?
It commonly takes between four to eight weeks to complete one cycle of IVF. You will have to wait for a couple of weeks for the eggs to mature. After this, you and your partner will have to spend about half a day or so at the hospital to have your eggs retrieved and fertilised.
How long does it take to get pregnant with IVF?
It generally takes about two weeks for your ovaries to be stimulated for it to produce follicles. When the ovulation begins, the insemination is performed. In IVF, the fertilisation process takes between four to six weeks prior to egg retrieval. After fertilisation, the embryos are then transferred into the woman, anywhere from three-five days later
What are the side effects of IVF?
Some of the side effects of IVF may include:
- Mild bloating
- Breast tenderness
- Mild cramping
- Passing small amount of fluid (may be clear or blood-tinged) after the IVF procedure
What is the success rate of in vitro fertilisation?
Ans. Age plays a crucial factor in the IVF procedure to be successful. While younger women have a higher success rate, an older woman with fewer eggs and lower quality of eggs have lesser chances. In fact, IVF success rate for women under 35 yrs is 40%.