What is IVF?
IVF is one of the best forms of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) by which the woman’s eggs are removed from her ovaries and then fertilized with the man’s sperm in a laboratory dish where it forms a matured embryos which are then put back into a prepared uterus to achieve a pregnancy.
Who are Treated with this Method?
IVF is offered to patients with bilateral tubal block or removal after sterilization, couples after failed first and second line procedures like ovulation induction (OI) and intra-uterine insemination (IUI), female partners with endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) who have not conceived with routine treatments and those with unexplained infertility. IVF is also the treatment option for couples requiring donor oocytes.
What are the Steps of Treatment?
i) Initial evaluation by the Infertility Consultant
Both the partners are evaluated for with medical history and infertility assessment which include blood tests, hormone levels to determine ovarian reserve and semen analysis in the male partner.
ii) Commencement of the treatment
Subsequently treatment is started according to specialized protocols tailored for optimum results on a specified day of the menstrual cycle at the Prime Infertility Centre. The medications are given to stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs because some eggs might not develop to fertilize.
During this stimulation treatment the injections have to be taken approximately at the same time every day which is usually supervised and can cause mild side effects like acidity and some discomfort.
The patient will be monitored at regular intervals with transvaginal ultrasound to check the ovaries and a few blood samples are taken to check the hormonal levels. In a very few cases if the progress is poor then a joint decision is taken with patient to cancel the cycle.
iii) Egg Retrieval Procedure (Ovum Pick-up)
Matured eggs are removed from the ovaries under a minor surgical procedure under a general anesthesia to reduce pain and discomfort. This takes about 15 minutes and patient is rested for 2-3 hours after which she can go home. Occasionally some patients may have some vaginal spotting and little abdominal discomfort which settles in a day or two.
iv) Insemination and Fertilization
A fresh semen sample is collected from the male partner on the day of egg collection (ovum pick-up) and prepared in the lab. After this for insemination the eggs and sperms are mixed together in a controlled environment. The next day the eggs are examined in the lab for their fertilization and their further development to embryos. Sometime more than three embryos developed which can be frozen for later transfer.
v) Embryo Transfer
This is performed after 2-5 days of egg collection. This procedure is carried out by transferring the embryo through the cervix into the uterus via a thin, soft plastic tube guided by Sonography. After the transfer the patients are given a course of medication to support the transfer of embryo.
vi) Confirmation of Pregnancy Test
This test is done after two weeks of embryo transfer to confirm the successful pregnancy. If the test is positive then a week later a vaginal ultrasound scan will be performed to confirm the pregnancy and view the gestational sac.
What are the Precautions to be taken after an IVF Treatment?
All vigorous exercise, heavy lifting and any activities that involvements (cycling, jogging, skiing, tennis etc.) are to be avoided while normal routine activities are allowed. Medications as prescribed are to be taken so as to improve chances of continuing pregnancy.