In vitro fertilization or IVF has become a household term these days. It involves a number of procedures to aid with the conception of a child. IVF constitutes a procedure in which eggs and sperm are collected from both the partners combined in a dish in a doctor’s lab and then embedded into the woman’s uterus.
Why is IVF done?
IVF can be followed through for the following factors:
- Ovulation problems
- Low sperm count
- Issues with the fallopian tube or uterus
- Antibodies that damage sperm or eggs
- The sperms inability to survive or breakthrough the cervical mucus
- Unexplained fertility causes
- Genetic disorder
- Uterine fibroids
- If you are about to commence cancer treatment, IVF might be a suitable option.
In the treatment of infertility, IVF is never initially considered except when there is a tubal blockage. It is carried out only when other procedures such as surgery, fertility drugs, and artificial insemination proved futile.
Process of IVF
In-Vitro Fertilization constitutes a number of stages which is carried out in the following ways:
- Medication to increase fertility is prescribed to increase egg production. Several eggs are preferred because some eggs will not fertilize post collection.
- Transvaginal ultrasound is initiated to inspect the ovaries. The blood specimen is drawn to inspect the hormone levels.
- A miniature surgery is initiated to retrieve the eggs using ultrasound imaging which will maneuver a hollow needle pass the pelvic cavity to retrieve the eggs. To prevent discomfort, medication is provided.
- Sperm is also collected from the male which is formulated for fusion with the retrieved egg.
- The retrieved eggs and sperm are fused and contained in a lab container to stimulate fertilization. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection might be used if the prospect of fertilization is low.
Through this method, a sole sperm is inserted into the collected egg to initiate fertilization.
- After a period of three to five days, the embryos are then embedded into the patient’s uterus post retrieval and fertilization.
Preparation for In-Vitro Fertilization
Various screening of both the partners is conducted before initiating the cycle of IVF.
- Semen Analysis: This is followed through in order to examine the male’s fertility
- Ovarian reserve testing: This is done to examine the standard and amount of the woman’s eggs
- Mock embryo transfer: This is committed to assessing the depth of the woman’s uterine cavity as well the method which will be most successful.
- Infectious diseases screening: Screening will be conducted to search for diseases including HIV as well.
- Uterine cavity screening: This will be done for IVF to determine the uterine cavity.
What factors affect IVF?
The probability of conception through In-Vitro Fertilization will depend on numerous factors such as:
- Embryo status: Not all embryos will survive the development stage. More developed embryos are related to the highest success rates than less developed embryos.
- Cause of infertility: Women characterized by severe endometriosis have lower chances of getting impregnated than women that suffer infertility due to unexplained causes. It is important for the woman to possess a normal supply of eggs for IVF to be successful.
- Lifestyle factors: Generally, women who indulge in smoking have fewer eggs and may have increased prospects of miscarriage. Smoking can reduce the success of IVF by 50%. Obesity can also decrease the chances of conception and producing a baby. Intake of recreational medicine, alcohol, drugs, excessive caffeine, and particular medications can prove harmful.
- Reproductive history: Previously, if the female had tried for IVF conception with no results, she is less likely to achieve success again. Women who were able to reproduce previously also have higher chances in comparison to girls who have never given birth.
- Maternal Age: The older the women get, the less likely for the success of IVF. Women aged 41 and above are often advised to consider donor eggs for IVF to successfully work.
Advantages of In-Vitro Fertilization
The prime advantage is conceiving a child. IVF can be helpful in bypassing fallopian tube problems in women. IVF was actually initially developed for this purpose so that women who experience tubal obstruction or blockages could have the chance of reproducing.
Confirmation of fertilization constitutes another edge of IVF. In some instances, the cause of infertility is unknown. This can be an outcome of the sperm and the egg lacking normal interaction, obstructing the creation of an embryo. During IVF, if the egg and sperm fail to interact and produce an embryo, a failed fertilization occurs. This can furnish answers as to why the pregnancy was not achievable before.
Should a cycle fail, the couple can opt to try another cycle. During the second time, ICSI can be employed for fertilization. If this procedure fails again, the couple can reconsider their fertility options.
IVF combined with ICSI makes it possible for men who underwent vasectomy or possess low sperm count to produce children who are biologically their own.
Through IVF, embryos that are created can be inspected for any distortions or abnormalities before being embedded into the uterus. In some instances, partners are at risk of conceiving offsprings with down syndrome or cystic fibrosis.
Combining IVF with Preimplantation genetic diagnosis or with Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), the chances of these abnormalities can be minimized.
Risks and Complications of IVF
The methodology of IVF does invite some risks and complications such as:
- Premature delivery: IVF cause a slight increase in the chances of premature delivery.
- Multiple Births: If more than a sole embryo is attached, multiple births will occur.
- Low birth weight: IVF also heightens the probability of conceiving a child with very low birth weight
- Injecting fertility drugs may lead to Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
- Miscarriage: The prospect of miscarriage through IVF goes up along with maternal age. Usage of frozen embryos might intensify the probability of miscarriage.
- Birth defects: The older the mother, the higher prospects of delivering a child with defects regardless of the method. However, enough study of IVF related birth defects has not been conducted.
- Complications pertaining to the retrieval of eggs
- Ectopic pregnancy: 2-5% of women who go through IVF suffer from ectopic pregnancy where the fertilized egg is embedded external of the uterus.
- Stress: Use of IVF can prove very stressful.
- Ovarian cancer: Some early research reported that there might be a connection between ovarian cancer and some egg growth stimulation medication. However, recent studies do not endorse this.
Side Effects of IVF
Most women are able to carry on their routine activities the following day, but it is recommended to slow down for a few days. Some side effects like the following might emerge after IVF:
- Breast tenderness
- A small fluid amount might be passed after IVF. This can be clear or blood tinged.
- Fertility medication may also induce the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Mild cramping
- Mood swings
- Abdominal bloating
- Hot flashes
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. However, this seldom occurs.
It is ideal to approach your doctor if you encounter any of the following:
- Pelvic pain
- Fever higher up of 38 degrees Celsius
- Blood in the urine
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
The list mentioned below should be followed post-IVF
- Avoid strenuous exercise
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Avoid sexual activity to avert infection or complications
- For the first couple of weeks, avoid taking baths
- Hot baths are to be avoided
- Do not indulge in smoking or consuming alcohol
- Consult your doctor for recommending progesterone
- Take sufficient rest
IVF Success Rates
The likelihood of successful In-Vitro Fertilization procedure rests on various factors such as the woman’s age, the location of your procedure, and the cause of infertility. In the United States, odds of success can be mentioned as under:
- Women above the age of 40: 13-18%
- Women between the age of 38-40: 23-27%
- Women between the ages of 35-37: 33-36%
- Women below the age of 35: 41-43%
Costs of In-Vitro Fertilization
Generally, the cost of the IVF procedure is around $12,000 USD. Sometimes it can cost as high as $15,000 USD or as low as $10,000 USD. However, it is seldom lower than that. These figures exclude the cost of medication.
If you want a more affordable option without compromising the standard, Thailand stands out as an option for medical tourism. Costs for IVF can be as low $7,500 and can go up to $10,000.
If you are considering Assisted reproductive Technology which is also called ART, IVF registers for 99% of all such related procedures. Being unable to conceive a child can be very distressful and heartbreaking. However, modern technologies exist that can successfully allow you to conceive.