In Vitro Fertilization is a one assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the embryo to the uterus. Other forms of ART include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).
When is IVF suggested or used?
Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
Male factor infertility including decreased sperm count or sperm motility
Women with ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids
Women who have had their fallopian tubes removed
Individuals with a genetic disorder
Most IVF centers will inform patients of these processes so as to prepare them physically and emotionally as it does take its toll on the body and quite invasive.
There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process:
Step 1: Fertility medications are prescribed to stimulate egg production. Multiple eggs are desired because some eggs will not develop or fertilize after retrieval. Transvaginal ultrasound is used to examine the ovaries, and blood test samples are taken to check hormone levels.
Step 2: Eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure that uses ultrasound imaging to guide a hollow needle through the pelvic cavity to remove the eggs. Medication is provided to reduce and remove potential discomfort.
Step 3: The male is asked to produce a sample of sperm, which is prepared for combining with the eggs.
Step 4: In a process called insemination, the sperm and eggs are mixed together and stored in a laboratory to encourage fertilization. In some cases where there is a lower probability of fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used. Through this procedure, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg in an attempt to achieve fertilization. The eggs are monitored to confirm that fertilization and cell division are taking place. Once this occurs, the fertilized eggs are considered embryos.
Step 5: The embryos are usually transferred into the woman’s uterus three to five days following egg retrieval and fertilization. A catheter or small tube is inserted into the uterus to transfer the embryos. This procedure is painless for most women, although some may experience mild cramping. If the procedure is successful, implantation typically occurs around six to ten days following egg retrieval.
Side effects of IVF include:
Passing a small amount of fluid (may be clear or blood-tinged) after the procedure
Be observant of the following symptoms and see your doctor ASAP:
Heavy vaginal bleeding
Blood in the urine
A fever over 100.5 °F (38 °C)
Like most medical procedures, IVF has it’s side effects.
Fertility medications can have various side effects including headaches, mood swings, abdominal pain, hot flashes, and bloating, amongst other side effects. Although it is rare, fertility medications may cause ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS). Symptoms of OHSS may include abdominal pain or a feeling of being bloated. More severe symptoms include the following:
Nausea or vomiting
Decreased urinary frequency
Shortness of breath
Severe stomach pains and bloating
Ten pound weight gain within three to five day
Culled from americanpregnancy
What is the success rate of IVF?
The success rate of IVF clinics depends on a number of factors including reproductive history, maternal age, cause of infertility, and lifestyle factors. It is also important to understand that pregnancy rates are not the same as live birth rates.
In the United States, the live birth rate for each IVF cycle started is approximately:
41-43% for women under age 35
33-36% for women ages 35 to 37
23-27% for women ages 38 to 40
13-18% for women ages over 40
It should be noted that multiple pregnancy is most commonly linked to IVF.