Category: Your Fertility
Posted 13 Apr 2017
What do couples go through during an IVF treatment cycle?
Couples who are considering IVF for their fertility problems would naturally want to know more about what they will have to go through during their IVF treatment cycle. While your fertility specialist will provide more detail as to what you can expect during the IVF treatment cycle, here are the general phases that most couples go through during their IVF treatment.
Ovarian stimulation, monitoring and ovulation triggering
In order to increase the chances of fertilisation during your IVF treatment, medication is provided to stimulate the ovaries to develop more follicles, which will produce more than one mature egg. During this time, blood tests and ultrasound imaging will be used to help monitor the number and size of developing follicles in the ovaries, and the suitable time for egg retrieval. Medication will also be given to control the timing of ovulation.
When the ovarian follicles are mature, a special hormone is used to induce ovulation and egg retrieval is performed. Egg retrieval is a procedure where a thin needle is inserted into the ovaries through a flexible catheter tube. Using ultrasound guidance, as many mature eggs are collected as possible to maximise the chances of fertilisation.
The sperm of the man is also collected on the day of retrieval. Once the eggs and sperm are collected, they are transported to the embryo lab, where fertilisation will take place.
Each individual healthy-looking egg will be mixed with healthy-looking sperm and placed in an incubator on the same day of retrieval. If ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is to be carried out, the embryologist will inject the sperm directly into the egg. The eggs will be examined over the next 24 hours to determine if they have been fertilised.
Embryo quality assessment
Over the next 3 to 5 days, the embryos will be monitored for their quality. At day 3, the embryo should be at cleavage stage, when the embryo cell has begun to divide. The embryologist will assess the embryos and determine the most suitable embryo for transfer.
After egg retrieval, the wife will be given hormone treatment to prepare the lining in the uterus for better chance of egg implantation. A healthy-looking embryo will be transferred to the wife’s uterus through the use of a flexible catheter tube. Depending on the wife’s condition and infertility causes, more than one healthy-looking embryo may be transferred to increase the chances of implantation. Any excess healthy embryos will be frozen for future use.
Once the egg is transferred, it can still take up to 2 weeks for tests to confirm that it has been naturally implanted in the uterus. Pregnancy support medication will be used to improve the conditions of the pregnancy. Lucky couples can get pregnant with their first IVF treatment, while unlucky couples may take 2 or more IVF cycles before they get pregnant. Using better quality embryos can help increase the chances of pregnancy, but it is not a guarantee. In addition, women who get pregnant through IVF can still experience the same or higher risks of miscarriage due to their infertility causes. Your fertility specialist will be able to advise you on the possible success rate for your condition and prepare you for the IVF cycle.