In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

About  48.5 million couples across the globe struggle with infertility. And, according to reports, 41-43% of women under the age of 35 successfully conceived after the first IVF trial. The popularity of IVF stems from its effectiveness in the process of conception. Ideally, it is useful in treating infertility problems and prevents the passing down of genetic disorders during conception.

In-vitro fertilisation involves a complex series of procedures but is one of the most effective forms of assisted reproductive technology.

Given how mainstream and advanced the procedure has become, you can seem medical help anywhere in this world. Consulting a fertility specialist will help you understand the purpose of IVF, it’s working, and the potential risks associated with it.

In-Vitro Fertilisation – Definition

IVF or in-vitro fertilisation is an assistive reproductive technology that involves retrieving the eggs from the female patient’s ovary and then fertilising with the sperm. The fertilisation is done in a lab to form an embryo. The embryo then has two fates:

  • It is frozen for storage
  • It is directly placed into the woman’s uterus

The effectiveness of an IVF procedure greatly depends on the patient’s age. While up to 43% of women under 35 experienced successful pregnancy with IVF, the rate further drops to 25% in women above 40.

Purpose Behind IVF

Off the bat, the only reason people think of IVF is when they are struggling with infertility. While that is true, IVF serves a lot of other purposes too. IVF is one of the first infertility treatments offered in the medical field. Although quite invasive and costly, the higher success rates pushed the boundaries of its popularity.

Patients can consider IVF if:

  • They are beyond the “standard or traditional” age of conception, preferably above 40
  • Have anomalies with the reproductive anatomy
  • Issues with ovulation or regulated menstrual cycle
  • Chronic growth of uterine fibroids
  • Issues with the uterine walls, endometriosis, adenomyosis, etc.
  • Abnormalities in sperm function, quality, and motility
  • Idiopathic infertility issues
  • Have genetic issues that they don’t want to be passed on to the offspring

Besides infertility, the purpose is also rallied for fertility preservation in patients suffering from cancer or other chronic health issues. If you have been actively trying to conceive but didn’t get successful results, seeking help from a fertility specialist can get you the answers you need.

Not understanding the cause behind infertility will result in futile attempts at conception. However, knowing the issues and seeking proper medical help with ARTs can help with successful pregnancies for individuals and couples.

Preparation for IVF – Physical, Mental, and Emotional Aspects

Preparing for any medical procedure involves a lot of steps. Not only physically, being mindful of the mental and emotional aspects is equally important. The same goes true for IVF too. The first step is to get tested for infertility. Sometimes, “not being able to conceive” after a few tries isn’t equal to “infertility.”

There could be several factors contributing to the chances of infertility. So, always seek medical help first and get yourself and your partner diagnosed medically. Get the results, understand the causes, and only then you should consider treatment options that can bypass this issue.

Ideally, preparing for IVF involves a lot of physical and emotional turmoil that the patient needs to prepare themselves for. Let us discuss the same in-depth.

Physical Preparation for IVF

The fertility expert you are consulting will start with physical testing before proceeding with the IVF procedure. Ideally, it will involve:

For Women For Men
Ovarian reserve testing Sperm testing
Checking the uterine health  
Testing for issues like fibroids, cysts, blockages  

 

Once these reports come in, the fertility expert will then make their patient sit down to discuss the problems.

If the issues are with the female patient, the treatments will start accordingly. This will involve IVF injections, timing the ovulation, and surgical procedures incase fibroids or other overgrowths are diagnosed.

If the issue is with the male sperm’s quality or motility, doctors can suggest other procedures like intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) for a higher probability of fertilisation.

Emotional Preparation for IVF

Patients seeking help with any kind of ART are already in a weakened state of mind. Infertility affects individuals in multiple ways, including emotional scarring.

So, when seeking IVF, many individuals or couples feel like it’s their only source of hope at having a successful pregnancy and a baby to hold after nine months. However, IVF is still an artificial procedure with many pros and cons, ups and downs.

Being prepared mentally for the procedure is an important aspect that the fertility specialist will see. From understanding the procedure and its implications to being prepared for a failed procedure, every step is explained in detail and with 100% transparency to ensure that the patients are ready for the treatment.

Many patients get support via counselling before, during, and after the procedure to make the transition smooth.

Breakdown of the In-Vitro Fertilization Procedure

In-vitro fertilisation or IVF is done in five distinct stages. It includes:

Stimulation 

The female patient is given fertility drugs to increase or multiply the egg production in one cycle. Multiple eggs enhance the successful chances of fertilisation and the development of a healthy embryo.

Egg retrieval 

Also known as follicular aspiration, this is a minimally invasive procedure where an ultrasound wand is guided through the vagina into one of the follicles in the ovary to retrieve the viable eggs during ovulation.

Insemination 

The collected sperm sample from the male patient is treated, isolated, and then fertilised with the retrieved egg from the female. If the fertilisation doesn’t lead to embryo development, ICSI is used.

Embryo culture 

Once the egg and sperm are fertilised, the developed embryo is vigilantly monitored. Doctors check the development and growth of the embryo. Even genetic testing of the embryo is done to rule out any genetic anomalies.

Transfer

The last step is to implant the fully matured and developed embryo into the female’s uterus. The procedure is typically done 3-5 days after the successful fertilisation. Once transferred, the patient is monitored for the next ten days to ensure successful embryo implantation into the uterine wall.

Complications of IVF – The Harsh Reality

Not everything is butterflies and rainbows, especially with a process as invasive as IVF. Although it brings the joy of parenthood to some couples and individuals, it also comes with its fair share of risks.

Some of the common risks and complications with IVF include:

  • Chances of multiple pregnancies
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
  • Hematoma
  • Infection
  • Lesions in the bowel or bladder

There is around a 40-45% probability of a successful conception after the first try with IVF. This means that half of the people undergoing this procedure experience a failed IVF due to several reasons. Braving through the physical and emotional toll of the procedure can be overwhelming and taxing.

So, it is suggested to have a thorough conversation with your specialist and have a clear understanding of what to expect. Sometimes, having faced the bitter truth of the procedure is better than a sugar-coated answer.

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