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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?
How popular is IVF compared to other fertility treatment options?
- 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.
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?
What are the chances of success with IVF?
- 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
A study by the New England Journal of Medicine
published in 2009, analyzed the results of 14,000 IVF cycles done by over 6,000 women.
Here is a summary of the results:
||Chances of a live birth
|After 1 IVF cycle
||After 2 IVF cycles
||After 3 IVF cycles
|40 and up
A study by the National Health Service in the UK, the percentage of IVF cycles in 2006 that resulted in a live birth was:
Duration of procedure/surgery:
||Chances of a live birth as a result of one IVF cycle
||Less than 1%
One full cycle of IVF takes around 4 to 6 weeks.
Egg collection typically takes between 30 minutes and an hour.
None. 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.
Egg collection in IVF takes place under a sedation anesthesia, or a general anesthesia if it is required.
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.
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.
- 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.