The IVF Process
Many couples have questions about the IVF process and what it entails. Since it is a medical terminology and not many are aware of the technical dynamics of the process, it is the reason why most couples consult medical professionals for guidance and assistance about the IVF process / procedure.
What Is IVF?
IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization. It is an Assisted Reproductive Technology or ART, which is used for the process of egg fertilization. It is a process which involves the manual fertilization and combining of the egg and sperm done in a laboratory dish. The resultant embryo is consequently transferred to the uterus.
Other forms of ART procedural treatment also include zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT).
Why Is IVF Used?
The IVF process is used for the treatment of any infertility problems. It is an egg fertilization process, which is used for the fertility treatment of patients who are diagnosed with problems like,
- Individuals diagnosed with a genetic disorder
- Any unexplained fertility issues
- Women who have had medical procedures done to have their fallopian tubes removed
- Any male factor infertility problems which lead to sperm motility problems or a decreased sperm count
- Women who have any ovulation disorders, uterine fibroids or suffer from a premature ovarian failure condition
- Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
What Are The Basic Steps Of The IVF Process?
In Vitro Fertilization is a medical process which involves a series of steps that are carried out to ensure fertilization of the eggs and the placing of the zygote within the uterus, for couples suffering from any type of infertility issues.
Any couple that wants to have a baby but is facing fertility problems can consult their doctor for the IVF procedure.
There are around five basic steps of the In Vitro Fertilization procedure, which also includes the embryo transfer process:
- The monitoring and stimulation of the development of healthy eggs within the ovaries
- The procedure involving the collection of eggs
- Process of securing the sperm
- Combining the eggs and the sperm together within a laboratory, and ensuring the provision of the appropriate environment required for fertilization and the early growth phase of the embryo
- The transfer of the embryo into the uterus
In this initial step, certain fertility medications are prescribed which are used to stimulate the production of the egg. In this step, multiple eggs are acquired because there is a chance that some eggs might not develop properly or cease to fertilize after their retrieval.
A transvaginal ultrasound is done to examine the condition of the ovaries, and different blood test samples are taken in order to check the levels of the hormones.
The eggs are duly retrieved by performing a minor surgical procedure. Ultrasound imaging is done to guide a hollow needle that passes through the pelvic cavity and is used to remove the eggs. Due medication is given in order to reduce and remove all potential discomfort experienced during the process.
The male individual is asked to provide a sample of the sperm. It is used for combining with the retrieved eggs.
This is a step which is referred to as insemination. It involves the mixing of the sperm and eggs, which are stored within a laboratory in order to foster fertilization. In certain cases, where there is a low probability of fertilization, ICSI or intracytoplasmic sperm injection may be used for the process.
As a means of this procedure, a single sperm is directly injected into the egg, which is a main attempt to ensure fertilization. The eggs are duly monitored in order to confirm that the fertilization process and cell division is taking place.
As soon as the eggs are observed as being fertilized, they are referred to as embryos.
As per this step, the embryo is duly transferred into the uterus of the woman around three to five days after the retrieval of the egg and the fertilization process. A small tube or catheter is inserted into the uterus of the women in order to transfer the embryo.
Most women find this procedure quite painless, while some may experience a mild cramping. If the entire procedure is successfully carried out, then the implantation occurs about six to ten days after the retrieval of the eggs.
After this, the embryo develops and grows in the uterus.
Possible Side Effects of the Process
There are some possible side effects which may be faced by women after the procedure. It is recommended to rest a little after the procedure, yet many women successfully resume regular activities from the following day.
Some of the possible side effects may include,
- Passing some fluid after the procedure, which may be clear or a little tinged with blood
- Mild bloating issues
- Some mild cramping pain
- Possible breast tenderness
It is recommended to consult the doctor at once, if there is any sign of the following symptoms,
- Pelvic pain
- Fever which in noted to be 100.5°F or 38°C
- Heavy amount of vaginal bleeding
- Blood detected in the urine
Risks Associated With the Procedure
Similar to all the different medical procedures, there are certain risks associated with this procedure as well. The use of fertility medications can result in various side effects which include mood swings, headaches, abdominal pain, bloating and hot flashes among other things.
While it is quite rare, the fertility medications might also cause OHSS, Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome. The affected individual might feel abdominal pain and experience bloating. Some of the more severe symptoms which are linked as a risk of this process include,
- Shortness of breath
- Gaining ten pound weight within a period of just 3 to 5 days
- Bloating and severe abdominal pain
- Decrease in frequency of urine
- Vomiting and nausea
It is important to contact a medical practitioner if one experiences any of these symptoms.
Some additional risks include conditions like,
- Any damage or infection to the bladder with bleeding or infection as a result of egg retrieval
- Increased chance of multiple pregnancies and high risk of different conditions linked to multiple births like low birth weight and premature delivery.
- Psychological stress with emotional problems if the IVF process proves to be a failure
Success Rate of IVF
The success rate of IVF process depends upon different factors which include maternal age, reproductive history, lifestyle factors and the cause of infertility.
The live birth rate for a single IVF cycle is around 41% to 43% for women aged under 35 years, while it is 23% to 27% for the women who are aged within the age bracket of 38 to 40 years.
Choosing a doctor you are comfortable with is important and it is essential to have a clear understanding of all the steps and components involved in the IVF procedure, before one makes a decision.