Sunday, July 15, 2012

In Vitro Fertilization Explained

In vitro is a Latin phrase that literally means “in glass.” As logic would suggest, in vitro fertilization is the fertilizing of a female egg by male sperm that happens in glass, most often in something similar to a petri dish. While that is a simple explanation of how IVF works, there is really a lot more that goes into just one treatment than fertilizing an egg in a glass dish.

The process of achieving a successful pregnancy through IVF is typically a long, arduous process that may not even work the first, second, or third time you try. The success of this and other fertility treatments is not guaranteed, so patience is a big part of achieving a pregnancy through fertility treatments such as IVF.

What to Expect When Undergoing IVF

To correctly and completely elaborate on all of the important aspects of in vitro fertilization you will need to understand the following 5 steps. But before we get into the actual process of IVF, we must first explain how you decide that IVF is a necessary step in you becoming pregnant. The way this happens is by visiting your fertility clinic and having your doctor perform a diagnostic test. Diagnostic test is a fancy way of saying that the doctor is going to examine the entirety of your reproductive system in order to see if he or she is able to locate the reason why you are unable to become pregnant naturally. Once the doctor discovers what is preventing you from conceiving a healthy child he or she will then decide whether IVF or another type of fertility treatment would be your best option.

Part 1: Your fertility clinic doctor will prescribe you certain medications in order to make your body as fertile as possible in the lead up to your treatment. The drugs you will be given can do anything from forcing you to ovulate or simply provide your body with hormones that are essential in order to facilitate and maintain a successful and healthy pregnancy. More often than not these drugs will force a female’s body to produce a surplus of eggs as to give the doctors the chance to pick the best egg and even save some of the residual ones for further treatment or even donation.

The more eggs a doctor is able to collect, the higher the likelihood of a successful pregnancy through IVF is. Doctors will be able to separate bad eggs from good ones by using an ultrasound monitor to check up on their development and formation.

Part 2: Once a female’s eggs have developed fully they are then able to be retrieved by way of a minor surgery. This surgery requires a doctor to take a hollowed out needle and place it directly into the woman’s pelvic cavity. The hollow needle literally sucks the eggs out of the woman and this whole process goes by the name of follicle aspiration. Depending on the doctor and clinic you will either be given local anesthesia or be completely sedated in order to avoid you feeling too much pain and/or discomfort.

Part3: This is one of the few steps in the IVF process that places the emphasis on the male partner. All that a male needs to do in order to contribute to the IVF treatment is to produce a sperm sample that is large enough and healthy enough to appropriately fertilize the eggs that have been retrieved.

Part 4: Starting at this point the doctors take over the rest of the IVF procedure. The eggs and sperm are put into incubators in a lab in order to be prepared to be fertilized. If doctors think that the fertilization process will be unsuccessful, they may immediately defer to pursuing a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This procedure is a small derivative of IVF and instead of using an entire sample of sperm to fertilize the egg, a doctor simply takes one single sperm and injects it into the egg directly. If fertilization of the eggs is considered a success, then the doctors are now dealing with what are called embryos.

Part 5: The final stage of the IVF process means that the fertilized embryos must be placed into the woman’s uterus no more than a week after they were fertilized. It isn’t always just one embryo that is placed back into the woman, depending on the doctor and clinic as many as 2 or 3 embryos could be put into the woman. Once again an ultrasound is used to ensure that the whole process is going smoothly. Unlike the retrieval of the eggs, the replacement of the embryos is typically painless and requires little to no pain killers. After this stage is completed a normal pregnancy will ideally ensue.

Success with IVF

Like stated above, the success of an IVF treatment is determined by a variety of different factors including health and age. The older a woman is, the less likely it is that a treatment of IVF will end up yielding a healthy child or children. With that being said there are instances of women who are over the age of 60 still being able to produce a healthy child.

When a doctor is performing diagnostic tests before IVF he or she will be examining a bunch of different aspects of your reproductive health. If you are suffering from a very serious reproductive deficiency then it is likely that an IVF treatment will not be successful.

Another big determining factor in whether or not an IVF treatment will end in a pregnancy is the clinic which you choose to go to. Many couples are under the impression that every fertility clinic is the same when nothing could be further from the truth. Reputable fertility clinics are typically considered to be reputable because they are known for producing high success rates with their fertility treatments. By choosing a fertility clinic that is known to turn infertile women into happy mothers you are making a choice that could mean the difference between having a child or not.