The yearning for a baby comes natural to most couples at some point of time. In the not-too-distant past, couples had nothing to look forward to if they could not conceive using natural methods. A husband and a wife who yearned to become parents would pray to the Gods and resort to performing rituals to please their ancestors.
Thankfully, today the technology has advanced so much that a couple need not resolve to their fate and can give it a good challenge. IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is one of the many options that a couple can make use of to finally feel a baby's love. Another interesting fact is that, today, women can choose IVF to have babies without the contribution of a significant other or a male partner.
IVF is a technique in which the eggs of the woman are removed and are made to be fertilized with the sperms obtained from the male partner or a donor in a laboratory. The fertilized embryo is then implanted into the womb of the mother to be. The embryo then grows and develops in the mother's womb until birth.
Today, we shall look at the various steps of IVF and learn what actually happens during an IVF.
Are You A Good Candidate To Receive IVF?
The first step towards IVF is to determine if you fit the criteria of undergoing the process. If you do not fit the required criteria, you may not be allowed to receive the treatment and may be advised to try other methods to have a baby. The criteria to receive an IVF are:
- Couples who have tried getting pregnant by the natural method for more than 2 years and have failed.
- Couples who have undergone artificial insemination and have failed.
- Women who have absent or blocked fallopian tubes. In such cases, IVF surely helps, as the procedure bypasses the involvement of the fallopian tubes.
- Women with fertility problems like endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
- Women with ovulation cycle that is abnormal. In these cases, drugs are administered to regulate healthy eggs and ovulation.
- Women who have unhealthy eggs can use donor eggs in combination with their partner's sperms.
- Men with low sperm count.
Who Should Opt Out Of IVF
IVF might not be a successful treatment to go for a lot of couples.
- If you do not wish to use donor eggs and you have unhealthy eggs, you may have to face failure with IVF.
- If you are older than 37 years of age, you will have a low chance of being successful with IVF, as egg production is reduced in a woman who is 40 years and above.
- If you are 40 or over 40 and do get pregnant with IVF, you may still have to face a miscarriage.
- Fibroid tumours, abnormal hormone levels, ovarian dysfunction and abnormalities of the uterus all may lead to a very low chance of success with IVF.
Step-by-step Process Of IVF
A round of IVF treatment is also called an IVF cycle. An IVF cycle starts on the first day of your periods. You may have to follow a fertility plan, which includes you to be prescribed or injected with drugs before you get your periods.
The day of your periods is officially known as your first day on the treatment. Each body reacts differently to the drugs you may be put on. Your doctor or nurse will help you determine your first day in a better way.
The Day 1 is considered to be the start of your stimulation phase. During this phase, your ovaries are stimulated and the follicles are encouraged to produce more eggs by putting you on medications that can last for 8 to 14 days. In a natural menstrual cycle, your body produces one egg every month.
The medication can vary from person to person based on your needs. It is given as an injection to be taken once or twice per cycle to once or twice per day. You will be tutored by your doctor on how and where you must administer the injection. Your partner can get involved in this process too.
You will be monitored carefully to observe the growth of the eggs. You may have to perform some blood tests and may have to undergo a series of ultrasound scans.
Towards the end, you will be given a trigger injection. The trigger injection helps the eggs be ready for ovulation or release. The eggs will be taken out before the ovulation.
Retrieval Of The Egg
Retrieval or the pick up of the egg is a procedure that needs to be done at home. In this procedure, the eggs are taken out of your ovaries. You will receive a general anesthetic for the procedure and may have to be unconscious for around half an hour.
Ultrasound technology is used to guide a needle into the ovary and the eggs are retrieved from the follicles of the ovary. Around eight to fifteen eggs can be retrieved at a time.
You will not be in pain when the procedure is over and can walk out of the hospital on your own. You may have to rest for 30 minutes before you will be allowed to go home. It is best that you come accompanied with a bystander for the procedure.
Retrieval Of The Sperm
Your partner will have to produce sperm and hand it over to the hospital on the morning of the egg pick-up day. If you are planning on using donor sperms, the hospital will have frozen sperms with them.
The sperms are graded into different levels based on their quality. The sperms are then washed using a special mixture. This is to slow the sperms down. Doing so will help the doctor to spot the healthiest sperm. They are then kept ready for the eggs.
The sperms and the eggs are placed in a petri dish. Here, the sperm finds the egg in a process that is very similar to that found in nature. This process is called fertilization.
The Development Of The Embryo
If a successful fertilization happens, the embryo is then produced. The doctor then puts the embryo into an incubator where the embryo grows further under optimum conditions for growth. The embryos are kept there for five to six days. The doctor looks for an embryo that is 2 or 4 celled on the second day and has become 6 to 8 celled by the third day.
It is important to remember that all embryos may not develop to this stage.
The Implant Of The Embryos
If the embryos develop in the laboratory, they are ready to be implanted into your womb. Your doctor will inform you on how you can be prepared to receive the embryos. You will be asked to drink a lot of water before the procedure, as you will need a full bladder. Using the ultrasound technology, the perfect implantation spot will be chosen.
The implant itself will take around five minutes. You will not be given an anesthetic and can even stand up as soon as the process is done. The embryo will not be dislodged or fall out in the toilet or if you walk around.
The embryo is placed in a catheter that is placed into your uterus through the cervix. It is then implanted into the chosen spot in the uterine lining.
You will be given a two-week wait after the implantation. You will be given a blood test after the two-week wait to determine the hCG levels. If you have hCG in your blood, it means that you are pregnant with your baby.
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