Is Infertility A Challenge?
For some, starting a family is an important life step. Yet, infertility can throw a wrench in those plans. Getting pregnant naturally is already a challenge. Infertility happens when a couple cannot get pregnant after at least 12 months of trying to conceive. Depending on age, doctors can confirm infertility in as little as 6 months. About 1 in 8 couples have trouble getting pregnant. In some cases, in vitro fertilization or IVF can help with pregnancy.
The first step: understanding the basics
To start the process is to understand the process. The doctor will discuss with the hopeful persons the steps involved. In vitro fertilization translates to conception in the lab. The process involves extracting eggs from the woman’s ovaries and combining the oocytes in a petri dish. Once the egg fertilizes, a doctor implants the embryo into the uterus. In the initial consultation, the doctor will describe the process, risks and address any concerns.
The second step: retrieving mature eggs
IVF starts on the first day of menstruation. Before then, the fertility clinic may give the woman hormone drugs. There will be some initial tests, including ultrasounds, blood tests, and even genetic testing. Ovulation stimulation starts at this point with fertility drugs, injected several times a day for one week. Over time, the eggs will mature and be ready for retrieval. Under a mild sedative, the doctor uses a needle to gently suck out the follicles containing the eggs.
The third step: egg fertilization
An embryologist will extract all healthy, mature eggs from the follicles. The semen sample is washed and prepared for fertilization, usually within 24 hours of extraction. The embryologist then places the most potent sperm with a mature egg in a culture dish. The dish is monitored for signs of fertilization in the coming day. The mature embryos are genetically screened to find the most viable. From there, one or more will be ready for transfer. In some cases, the woman may decide on elective single-embryo transfer.
The fourth step: egg transfer and the wait
At this point, a few days have passed since the egg retrieval. The viable embryos are available for transfer using a simple outpatient process. The woman returns to the clinic for the doctor to implant one or more embryos. Using a catheter, the doctor will implant the embryos through the cervix to the uterus. From there, the remaining eggs are preserved for another cycle in the event the transfer fails. After a successful transfer, all parties must wait for any pregnancy signs over the next 2 weeks. Closer to the end of that time, the doctor performs a pregnancy test. Of all the assisted reproductive technologies, IVF has a high success rate of 39%.
Is IVF right for you?
For the IVF discussion to begin, there are some prior health checks and discussions with a doctor. There are a range of reasons why pregnancy is not possible, stemming from the man, the woman, or both. Sometimes, the issue is obvious. There is a dysfunction of the reproductive organs or a pre-existing disease causing infertility. Other reasons are more nuanced, like hormones, sperm health, or lifestyle conditions stopping pregnancy. Whatever the reason, IVF is right only if all other reproductive treatments fail. IVF may only be immediately applicable in the case of surrogacy, egg donors, or using previously frozen embryos.
Consider IVF today
IVF is a challenging, sometimes stressful process. However, this is the most effective form of treatment for infertility. While there is an amazing upside, IVF comes with some risks to the baby and mother. The clinic will discuss any concerns and take steps to minimize the risk. IVF may be best for those struggling to conceive or with clear reproductive challenges. Speak with a doctor about the possibility of IVF today.