IVF or in vitro fertilization is a treatment where the sperm and egg are combined in a laboratory. The resulting embryo is tested for quality and then one or more of it is placed in the uterus through the cervix. IVF treatment is a high-tech fertility treatment and an assisted reproductive technology procedure.
Who can use the IVF treatment?
IVF is a procedure that can help you get pregnant. You may want to use this for any of the following reasons:
- Difficulty in ovulating or low egg quality.
- Blocked fallopian tube or endometriosis.
- Problems with your partner’s sperm quality or count.
- Using a donor’s egg to get pregnant.
- Unexplained fertility issues.
The IVF treatment has various stages:
The ovary is first stimulated for about 8 to 14 days close to the menstrual cycle with a fertility drug that produces multiple eggs for fertilization. A synthetic hormone is also given to the patient to prevent the egg from getting released early. The blood hormone levels are checked and ultrasound measurements of the ovaries are done. This is done to monitor the follicle which is the sac filled with fluid and where the egg matures. A trigger shot is given when the follicles are ready and lets the eggs mature fully. This makes the eggs capable to be fertilised. After 36 hours of receiving the shot, the eggs are ready and can be retrieved.
The next stage is the egg gathering stage where the patient is given anaesthesia and an ultrasound probe is inserted through the vagina. This provides a view of the ovaries and identifies the follicles. The eggs are then removed from the follicles by inserting a thin needle through the vagina. Normally eight to fifteen eggs are retrieved. The patient may notice slight spotting and cramping for a few days after this procedure. An embryologist then examines the eggs and combines it with the sperm of the partner and incubates them overnight. This is the fertilization stage. However, if the eggs or sperms are of poor quality then the eggs may not fertilize. In such cases the doctor may use another technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection where a single sperm is injected into each of the mature eggs. Three days later some of the eggs that were fertilized become embryos with six to ten cells. After the fifth day, some of the embryos become blastocysts which have a cavity filled with fluid and tissues that separate out into a placenta and the baby.
The embryologist then selects the most viable embryo and places it in the uterus. The extra embryos are frozen for future cycles. The doctor then places one to five embryos in the uterus of the patient as per her age. This is done by inserting a catheter through the cervix. The embryo gets implanted in the uterine wall and grows into a baby if the treatment is successful. If there is more than one embryo planted, then the chances of having a baby are higher, but also are the odds of having multiple babies. A pregnancy test can be taken two weeks after the embryo is implanted in the uterus. also are the odds of having multiple babies. A pregnancy test can be taken two weeks after the embryo is implanted in the uterus.
The IVF cost is very high. The average cost for treatment in India can even go up to 4.5 lakhs or more for a single treatment cycle. The cost keeps rising for patients who need advanced treatments.