What is IVF?
IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology that helps couples with fertility issues to have a baby. In simple words, the sperm from the father and the egg from the mother is combined in a laboratory. When embryos are formed, they are placed in the womb. IVF is a complex and extensive process that happens in many stages. Many infertile couples are seeking out IVF due to their comparatively high success rates.
IVF process timeline
An IVF cycle begins with the first day of the period and is concluded with a blood test to confirm the pregnancy. If the woman is found to be pregnant, the IVF treatment is considered successful. The treatment might start well before the first day of the IVF cycle. Depending upon the treatment plan set by your fertility expert at Oasis, you may have to take medicines or injections beforehand.
Step by step IVF process
- Step 1- Stimulation Phase :The stimulation phase begins on the first day. During every menstrual cycle, your body will naturally produce one egg. During the stimulation phase, you will have to take medications to encourage the ovaries to produce more eggs in the cycle. The course of the medication can be anywhere between 8 to 14 days. A trigger injection will need to be taken at the right time to help mature the eggs. The timing of the trigger injection is critical. The fertility expert will retrieve the eggs before the ovulation takes place. Our fertility experts will guide and support you throughout the process.
- Step 2- Retrieval of the egg :Egg retrieval or egg pick up (EPU) is a day procedure, during which the fertility expert will retrieve 8 to 15 eggs depending upon the availability. The number of eggs extracted will also depend on your medical history and age. The procedure will be done under general anaesthesia and you may be unconscious for around half an hour. Your fertility specialist will use state of the art ultrasound technology to collect the eggs using a needle from follicles on your ovaries. After the procedure, you may have to stay in the recovery room for an hour or so before you can go home. It is not advisable to drive home by yourself after the procedure. Therefore, do bring someone along with you.
- Step 3- Sperm collectionSperm for the IVF process is usually collected on the same day as the egg retrieval. The man is asked to abstain from sex for two to five days prior to the collection, which is usually achieved through masturbation. If frozen sperm or sperm from the donor is to be used, the scientists will process the sperm in the laboratory. Once the sperm is collected, the ideal sperms will be spotted and picked using a powerful microscope. The sperm with the normal semen parameters (morphology, count and motility) is chosen.
- Step 4- FertilisationAfter both the sperms and the eggs are collected, the next step involves fertilization. The process where sperms combine with the eggs is known as insemination. It is done using either intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or standard insemination. When eggs and sperms are placed in a culture dish and the sperms are allowed to combine with the eggs naturally, it is called standard insemination. In ICSI, an ideal sperm is selected and injected into an ideal egg by the fertility expert. Fertility experts at Oasis will talk to you about which of the processes will be suitable for you depending on the various criteria. The inseminated eggs will then be placed into the incubations to develop. After around 17 hours, signs of fertilization should ideally appear. Signs of fertilizations will appear in the form of 2 pronuclear bodies which contain the genetic material from the egg and sperm. If only one pronuclear body is seen, it will not go on to produce an embryo.
- Step 5- development of an embryoAfter the first 17 hours, the fertilization continues to form an embryo. The embryos will be placed in an incubator to ensure optimal growth conditions. The embryos grow in a culture of nutrients that are similar to the mother’s womb to mimic the natural fertilization. On the day two of incubation, the embryo will be two to four celled. On day 3, the number of cells will be increased to about six to eight. This stage is called the cleavage stage. By day 6 the embryo will have around 100 cells and is called a blastocyst.
- Step 6- transfer of the embryoYour fertility specialist will choose the ideal embryo and place it into your womb in a procedure called embryo transfer. The process is simple and is done without any anaesthesia. The scientist will prepare the embryo for transfer carefully and place it into a catheter. Your fertility expert will then place it into your womb through the cervix. Once inside the uterus, the embryo is secure and will implant itself into the walls of your uterus if the pregnancy is to progress. You can go about your day as soon as the procedure is done. Using the bathroom or standing up will not reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
- Step 7- Pregnancy testAfter two weeks from the embryo transfer, a blood test will be done to determine if you are pregnant and if the IVF cycle has been successful. The test will measure the levels of hCG or human chorionic gonadotropin hormone in your blood. Your doctor will determine the exact time when the test is to be taken depending upon your medical history and age. The IVF cycle is complete with the blood test. If you are found to be pregnant, the IVF cycle is deemed to be successful.