IVF refers to In vitro fertilization. It consists of a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or problems related to genetic disorders. A more straightforward way to understand the IVF procedure is that mature eggs are collected from a female’s ovaries and fertilized by sperm artificially in a lab.
It was first initiated in 1978 in England. When it was introduced, IVF was prescribed to women with blocked fallopian tubes. However, IVF achievement rates have improved significantly over the years.
Before we move ahead, we need to understand infertility thoroughly. Almost everyone today has heard about infertility, even if they might not understand the term entirely. In simple words, infertility can be defined as a disorder of the male or female reproductive system where pregnancy is not achieved even after 12 months or more of regular sexual intercourse.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) gives us this pellucid definition. Infertility can be divided into two types. Type one is primary infertility. It refers to couples who cannot conceive after one year of having sex without birth control methods or contraceptives. Secondary infertility refers to those who got pregnant at least once in the past, but at present, they have difficulties conceiving.
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What are the Signs of Infertility ?
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization allows couples to become parents even if one of the partners has infertility issues despite trying other first-hand methods such as surgery, fertility drugs, etc. IVF is preferable when you or your partner has a low sperm count, poor quality eggs, genetic disease, endometriosis, etc.
You may have heard of another process called artificial insemination. It can be understood as the reverse process of in vitro fertilization, where the sperm is placed in the uterus artificially, and normal conception occurs in due time. Unlike artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization involves combining eggs and sperm outside the human body in a laboratory in a carefully controlled environment. Once the embryo begins to form, they are collected and placed carefully in the uterus.
One more term related to in vitro fertilization is ART, Assisted Reproductive Technology. It includes vitro fertilization-embryo transfer (IVF-ET), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), frozen embryo transfer (FET), and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT).
The term “test-tube baby” is used popularly for babies conceived through the in vitro fertilization method. Although the term is “test-tube baby”, these babies do not develop in test tubes. Instead, the egg is fertilized in a petri dish using the IVF process. You should remember that IVF should only be opted for when other methods fail to produce the desired results.
What is IVF - Procedure?
- ● First, hormones are injected into the female body to produce multiple eggs each month instead of only one. You will then be tested to determine whether you are ready for the process of egg retrieval.
- ● Next, injections of certain medications are given that ripen developing eggs to augment the process of ovulation as soon as possible. The time factor is crucial because if the eggs are taken out too early or too late, they will not develop normally. Blood tests and ultrasounds help determine whether the eggs are in the right stage before retrieving.
- ● Special instructions must be followed the night before and on the day of the IVF procedure. The process is carried out while a woman is mildly sedated or she is under general anaesthesia.
- ● Next, the doctor’s task is to locate the follicles in the ovary with ultrasound. After that, the eggs can be removed using a hollow needle, which are then mixed with the partner’s sperm.
- ● The fertilized eggs are kept in carefully controlled conditions in the laboratory. After that, the embryos start to develop slowly. When they reach the right stage of development, you will be called to the IVF clinic so that doctors can transfer one or more developing embryos into your uterus. This process is a lot easier than the earlier processes.
- ● After this process is complete, you will be advised to take bed rest for several hours at the clinic before you return home.
Generally, after two weeks of embryo transfer, your doctor will call you for a pregnancy test.