In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is an assisted method of reproductive therapy, for couple facing fertility issues. Many couples try to conceive for many years without any success and have to turn to alternate methods to complete the family they dream of having someday.
The idea of opting for an alternate method of conception is often disheartening for many couples. However, this procedure has good success rates when both partners involved in the procedure are healthy and conditions for conducting the procedure are optimum. IVF offers options of using anonymous donors for both eggs and sperm, including choosing a surrogate to carry your child to term. Depending on the comfort level of the couple involved a whole combination of options can be used.
When Is IVF Considered?
Many years of failure to conceive, is often a reason to resort to IVF. When consulting a fertility specialist, many doctors first assess the current reasons for infertility. If both partners are healthy other methods are first tried before resorting to IVF. These include use of medications to enhance fertility or artificial insemination.
Possible Causes For Infertility
Reasons for infertility differ from couple to couple. However common causes include:
Low sperm counts
Impaired sperm function
Blocked fallopian tubes or reproductive tract
Your fertility specialist will go over the details of the IVF procedure in detail before you take the decision to go ahead with it or not. Any risks or side effects to the procedure will be discussed well in advance. The basic procedure generally includes:
Stimulation of the multiple follicles to develop eggs:
While a regular menstrual cycle favours the release of one egg, the use of fertility drugs assists more than one follicle in the ovaries to produce eggs. During this time continual follow ups along with tests are conducted.
Retrieving the eggs:
Through a small outpatient procedure, the eggs are harvested from the ovaries. If a woman is unable to produce eggs, a donor egg can be used for the procedure.
Fertilization and embryo culture
The eggs and sperm are mixed together in a controlled environment and incubated. The eggs divide to form embryos. These eggs are sometimes genetically tested in families where there is a probability of transmitting genetic conditions.
This is conducted about 3 - 6 days after egg retrieval. This procedure also takes place in an outpatient setting. It is a relatively painless procedure with only mild cramping experienced after the procedure. More than one embryo is transferred in any one cycle of IVF.
What happens next?
After the transfer of the fertilized eggs, a woman can resume her normal activities the very next day. Daily hormonal pills or injections are advised for the next couple of months to increase the chances of implantation and maintain the thickness of the uterus to foster the growth of the embryo.
After about two weeks, a pregnancy test will be conducted at your doctor’s office. If you are pregnant an obstetrician will continue with follow up and prenatal care.
What risks do I incur with this procedure?
Every cycle of IVF have a few risks to consider. The procedure on it’s own is minimally invasive. However the intake of hormones can cause side effects that in rare instances can be severe.
With in vitro fertilization and the transfer of several eggs at a time, there is a chance of multiple pregnancies at once. This can lead to increased chances of low birth weights and miscarriages.
However if successful, this procedure leads to a normal course of pregnancy without additional side effects, than normally experienced during pregnancy.
Naturally conceiving and growing one’s family is the idealistic way for anyone to picture their future. However with modern medicine inability to conceive is merely a roadblock to the picture perfect family. In vitro fertilization has worked for plenty of couples, check in with your fertility specialist to see if it is the right choice for you.
There are plenty of couples facing issues with fertility and related concerns. If you are one such couple, do share your concerns and comments on the topic of IVF. We would love to read your experiences as well as questions in the comments section below.