IVF is used to help people with fertility problems such as low sperm count, ovulation problems, low ovarian reserve, problems with the uterus or fallopian tubes who wish to become pregnant.
IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilisation. The term ‘In Vitro’ is Latin for ‘in glass’ because during an IVF cycle the eggs are mixed with the sperm in glass, rather than inside the female body. While in the lab, the sperm can naturally enter the egg or can be injected into the egg by using ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection).
Each attempt at IVF is called a cycle and prescribed medications are used as part of the treatment to stimulate the ovaries to grow more eggs instead of the usual one egg that grows every month during a normal menstrual cycle. Throughout the stimulation process you are monitored very closely until you are ready for the egg retrieval.
The egg retrieval is a simple procedure to collect the eggs from the ovaries and is done under sedation for a painless procedure. It is done through the vagina using a trans-vaginal ultrasound probe, which pokes through the wall of the vagina to reach the ovaries to collect the eggs out of the follicles and into a test tube. The embryologist will then examine the contents of the test under a microscope and seek out the most promising eggs.
Once the eggs have been mixed or injected with sperm, they will be left to fertilize in the incubator. The embryos will then divide (grow) in the incubator for 3-5 days. After day 3 the strong embryos will continue to grow. The weaker embryos, however will stop growing at this stage and can no longer be used. The stronger embryos that continue to grow until day 5 become blastocysts and have the potential to grow into a baby.
Pregnancy rates are higher after blastocyst transfer, as the embryos have already gone through a number of crucial stages of development.
Depending of the age of the women and the quality of the embryos, 1, 2 or more embryos will be chosen for the embryo transfer. During the embryo transfer the embryologist will get the embryos ready in the catheter. The doctor will insert the catheter through the cervix and when is it in the right place, they will place the embryos into the womb. The transfer is done under ultrasound visualisation through your abdomen and in most of the cases you will be able to see the injection of the embryos on the screen (actually you see just a bubble of fluid, as embryos are too small!).
And then it’s just the two week wait for your pregnancy test!
– Dr. Corona