IVF- In Vitro Fertilization Details

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure where sperm is used to fertilize an egg outside of the body. This is done manually and usually occurs in a laboratory setting.  The embryo formed after fertilization is then transferred to the uterus of the patient.  IVF is a specific type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and is considered the most effective.  Patient’s having difficulty in conceiving due to ovulatory disorders, damaged or compromised fallopian tubes, genetic disorders or male associated infertility such as low sperm count or motility, and/or any other circumstances that may result in infertility may be advised to use this technique.       

Before IVF- In Vitro Fertilization

If the patient is experiencing infertility issues that could be caused by a myriad of different factors, IVF is often a choice that is recommended by healthcare professionals.  Patients must consult with their doctor(s) in order to ensure that this method is appropriate for them.  IVF is usually not the first step considered when treating infertility and is often only considered an option when fertility drugs, surgery, and artificial insemination have failed.    

Before undergoing IVF, the patient will have to go through a series of screenings.  These include tests to assess the health and quantity of the patient’s eggs, a test to determine if the patient or their partner has any sort of infectious disease, a uterine cavity exam, and a semen analysis.  It may also be recommended that the patient undergo a practice embryo transfer before the real thing occurs.  

How it is performed

There are several steps associated with IVF: 

Stimulation or Super ovulation – Hormones are injected into the patient to stimulate the production of multiple eggs per month rather than just one. These injections are then followed by other injections meant to help the eggs develop and mature.  The patient will also be given medications to help prepare the body for implantation of the embryo. 

Egg Retrieval and sperm retrieval - Usually done 34-36 hours after the final injection. A minor, outpatient surgery is done to collect the eggs from the female.  This procedure is done under anesthesia and involves using an ultrasound to visualize the uterus and a small needle connected to a suction device to collect the eggs.  This process generally takes 20-40 minutes.  Sperms are harvested from the patient’s partner or from a third-party donor. 

Fertilization and Insemination - Healthy, mature eggs and healthy sperm are combined in a laboratory setting and incubated overnight to initiate fertilization.  

Embryo culture and transfer – Once the fertilized egg starts dividing, it is referred to as an embryo. This embryo is allowed to continue to grow and divide under constant monitoring by laboratory staff. This takes about 3-4 days.  When the embryo has grown to a sufficient size, it is then implanted in the woman’s womb via a catheter inserted into the vagina.  One or more embryos can be implanted this way.   

Recovery

Patients will typically remain in bed for several hours following the procedure after which normal activities can be resumed.  Follow up visits to the doctor are required to perform pregnancy tests and asses how the fetus is developing.  The patient may be advised to avoid overly strenuous activity for some time.    

Potential Risks

Some risks of the IVF procedure includes bloating, constipation, cramps and breast tenderness. This is the result of high estrogen levels and thus altered hormonal levels can induce mood swings, and headaches as well.  If more than one embryo is used, there is a risk of multiple pregnancies. The actual procedure may also have risks pertaining to the mildly invasive nature of the egg retrieval and embryo implantation.IVF may cause other residual side effects such as, abnormal weight gain, shortness of breath and urinary irregularity. 

Cost for IVF- In Vitro Fertilization

US from $14,000
UK from $8,000
India from $3,200

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