What is IVF?
IVF is an assisted reproductive technology used for fertility treatment. The process of fertilization where the egg is combined with the sperm outside the body is called In-vitro Fertilization or IVF. In-vitro means outside the living body, in a test tube, petri dish or elsewhere.
This is different from artificial insemination. In artificial insemination, the sperm is placed directly within the uterus, whereas in IVF, the process takes place in a laboratory. The eggs and sperms fertilize in a culture dish, and the resultant embryos are then replaced back into the uterus.
IVF technology has been around for more than three decades and has shown promise. It is recommended for families that have been trying to conceive unsuccessfully for months or years, and for whom other traditional fertility treatments have not yielded results.
When to Use IVF Treatment?
There are a number of reasons why IVF is the preferred treatment for many. It is opted primarily for the following cases:
- The woman is of advanced age (40 years and above)
- Presence of male infertility or low sperm-count
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Previously cryopreserved eggs are being used
- An egg donor is being used
- Surrogate is needed
- Presence of anti-sperm/anti-egg antibodies
- Unexplained fertility issues
What are the Different Procedures and Processes Involved?
Different clinics and different practitioners differ in the procedures they follow and regimen they outline for the couple. However, the basic processes and procedures can be summarized:
- Initial consultation
- Blood tests and ultrasound
- Ovarian stimulation and related medication
- Maturation of ova (multiple eggs)
- Retrieval of ova
- Fertilization in a lab
- Transfer of embryo to the uterus
- Two-week wait
- Pregnancy test
The step beginning from the ovarian stimulation to the pregnancy test is called one IVF cycle.
Should IVF Be the First Choice for Fertility Treatment?
Normally, IVF is the first choice for fertility treatment only if the couple has one or more of the issues outlined earlier. Fertility drugs, surgery, intra-uterine insemination, etc. are the options for treatment of infertility, if applicable, before attempting In-vitro Fertility treatment at present.
IVF may involve more than one cycle if the first round of fertilization and/or implantation is not successful. The cost involved in the whole process is another factor that has to be considered before deciding on In-vitro Fertilization. The price will vary depending on the kind of medications that are required, the number of IVF cycles you have to undergo, where you do your procedure etc.