People generally know what IVF stands for. It’s one kind of fertility treatment that has been gaining much attention from the public.
However, people are still curious regarding what’s going to happen when you are kept under the procedure.
There are a lot of processes involved. Lucky for you, your doctor and nurses will guide through the process.
IVF fertility treatment: The steps
There are a few steps you can expect when you’ve decided to submit yourself to IVF treatment.
I would like to clarify that each and every one of you may start with a different kind of process.
Some might skip this. It all depends on the initial assessment with your doctor.
If your fertility treatment specialist decides you have to do it, you will be placed on birth control therapy to suppress ovulation.
This is important to ensure that your IVF cycle can be efficiently timed.
Get some hormone shots as part of your fertility treatment
A cocktail of hormone injections which include follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone (LH) or both would be given to stimulate your ovaries when the time is right.
You would be monitored by a multitude of laboratory investigations plus ultrasound to visualise the number of healthy egg follicles and the thickness of your uterine lining.
Getting a trigger shot
Predicting ovulation is not an easy task even for an expert. Various factors can contribute to this event.
So, in order to stimulate and trigger ovulation, you will be given a trigger shot which comprises human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) or drugs such as Lupron.
Trigger shots would usually work in between 24 to 48 hours.
Retrieving eggs for fertility treatment
This is the pillar of IVF. After you have been given your trigger shot, the doctor would use an ultrasound-guided needle to retrieve those eggs transvaginally (through the vagina).
Your doctor would usually take in between 10 to 15 eggs to be used per cycle of IVF.
This procedure is being carried out while you were put under sedation. Don’t worry, you wouldn’t feel a thing.
Time to stick it to the guy
While you were busy trying to get your eggs out, your partner has to produce a sperm sample.
If by any chance, you were using donor sperms which have been frozen, the thawing process would take place by this time.
The infamous laboratory fertilisation
The method to achieve successful fertilisation would differ depending on the capability of your sperm.
Currently, there are two methods which are:
- Standard insemination. Putting eggs in a petri dish which contained up to 100,000 sperms in it.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Injecting a single sperm directly into an egg.
The Petri dishes are left in a special incubator for 12 to 24 hours.
There are various success rates which have been documented in terms of the likelihood for them to be fertilised.
Overall, the success rate can be quite high at 80%.
Fertility treatment successful, now what?
Your developing embryo would be monitored by a certified embryologist. This step is important to ensure that by day 5 of fertilisation, there should be a healthy blastocyst.
Here’s the kick-off, only 30 to 50% of healthy embryos can be successfully cultured to the blastocyst stage.
One would be used and the rest can be frozen for future use.
Each and every single viable embryo would be examined to ensure there is no problem related to genetics. Whatever that can be tested for now.
After that, roughly two days later, you would be started on progesterone supplement to optimise your uterine lining before conducting embryo transfer and implantation.
This particular prescription needs to be taken up until you are diagnosed with pregnancy.
Starting transfer, the most critical aspect of fertility treatment
By using a flexible catheter guided by ultrasound, an embryo or embryos would be transferred into your uterus.
Depending on your age, the number of eggs being transferred can determine the rate of success of fertility treatment.
Those who are under 35 years old would be given up to two embryos for example.
Before the procedure began, the embryo would be coated with a “glue” to maximise its potential to stick to the uterine wall.
Along the way, you will be awake. No anaesthesia is required as it is not a painful process.
You can even witness the process with your own eyes.
Up to this point, you will be advised to abstain from sexual activities.
Moment of truth, the pregnancy test
Now, the waiting game. Just wait for your blood test. Don’t be too eager to test yourself by using the home pregnancy test.
It can give you false positives, as previously you had an hCG shot to trigger ovulation.
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