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In today’s day and age, it is common to hear of couples going through a lot of stress trying to conceive a child.
In today’s day and age, it is common to hear of couples going through a lot of stress trying to conceive a child. Sedentary lifestyles, increase in stress levels and various other aspects of modern life have contributed to the growth of infertility issues in both men and women. As a matter of fact, it is no longer considered taboo to opt for medical help in the journey of trying to get pregnant.
What is IVF?
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a process where the eggs of a woman and the sperm of a man are fertilized outside, in a lab environment. The fertilized eggs are then transferred into the uterus of the woman for implantation for initiating a pregnancy.
Your IVF treatment officially begins on day one of your periods. Your oestrogen levels in checked through a blood test on the second day of your period.
Furthermore, you will also undergo an ultrasound to check the size of your ovaries and to look for any existing ovarian cysts that may come in the way of your treatment. These cysts may either dissolve within a week or can be taken out with a needle.
Stimulating the Ovaries
Typically, one egg is released every month by the ovaries under natural conditions. To be able to improve the success rates of your IVF cycle, you will be asked to take injectable hormonal medications for 1 to 2 weeks to produce multiple eggs in that cycle.
Monitoring your Progress
You will be expected to visit the doctor about 8 to 9 times to monitor your progress. Here is what to expect in these appointments–
Taking the Trigger Shot
Based on the results from your monitoring sessions, you will be given a trigger shot that allows to fully mature the ovaries and ovulate. The timing at this stage of your cycle needs to be perfect since the eggs need to retrieved right before the ovaries will ovulate.
Retrieving the Eggs
Approximately 2-3 days after you have been given the trigger shot, you will have to go back to the lab for the egg retrieval procedure. Here, the patient will be given anaesthesia after which a needle is inserted vaginally to remove the egg(s) as well as the follicular fluid. This outpatient procedure will take about 30-45 minutes.
In some cases, ovaries that are inaccessible trans-vaginally are accessed through an abdominal surgery.
Retrieving the Sperms
The sperm of your partner will be collected and stored earlier or on the same day of the insemination. Semen can be provided through masturbation. In some cases, your partner may have to opt for surgical methods such as testicular aspiration.
The sperm is separated from the semen in the laboratory.
Insemination & Fertilization
Retrieval of the eggs and insemination takes place on the same day. Here, the mature eggs and sperms are mixed together and incubated overnight. In case the sperm or semen quality isn’t good, ICSI may be used. A single healthy sperm is isolated and then injected into the egg. This entire process takes place in the embryology lab at the IVF clinic.
Development of the Embryo
Once the fertilization process is complete, the embryos begin developing. The growth of these embryos or blastocyst is examined closely for about one week.
Transferring the Embryo
Approximately around the fifth day after the eggs have been retrieved, you will be provided with an appointment for the embryo transfer procedure. Depending on your age, previous medical treatments and the quality of the embryos, one or more embryos will be transferred. For women under 37 years of age who are on their first IVF cycle, having a good quality blastocyst, most doctors would recommend opting for elective Single Embryo Transfer (eSET)
The embryo is inserted into the uterus, via the vagina, using a catheter. Getting Tested for Pregnancy
You will be expected to test for pregnancy about 2 weeks your transfer date. You will need to get a blood test to check your hCG levels.
After 6 to 8 weeks, you will be called for your first ultrasound where the doctor checks for the foetal heartbeat and the amniotic sac to make sure that your pregnancy is developing as expected.
That said, chances are that your blood reports may be negative. This can be emotionally disappointing for many couples. However, don’t let your efforts go in vain. Now is the time to speak with your IVF expert to understand the way ahead.
Like any other procedure, IVF treatments also come with their own set of risks and complications. It is important that couples make themselves aware of these contingencies when choosing to go down the IVF path.
It is a common myth that IVF treatments increase the risk of cervical, ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer. It is also commonly misbelieved that babies born via IVF treatments are at higher risk of birth defects. Millions of women around the world including in countries such as Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan opt for IVF treatments to complete their families. Research has shown no significant difference in birth defects occurred in babies conceived through IVF versus those conceived naturally. Maternal age often plays a greater role in causing these birth defects in the babies.
That said, there is a 2-3% chance of inherent sex chromosomal abnormalities such as improper development of penis or sperm in babies conceived through ICSI especially in a male child.
Here are a few common precautions that you may be recommended right after you undergo an embryo transfer –
It is important that you have a good support system during these times. A family member, a close friend or your spouse can prove to be your pillars during this time. Find ways to keep yourself calm and happy. Meditation is a great practice to consider while you undergo your treatment.
For any more information on IVF treatments, understand IVF cost in India and how to plan you trip to India for your cycle, speak to our in-house doctors today!
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