What is the IVF Treatment Process?
Like all successful procedures, adequate planning and preparation help IVF. The preparation phase can last as long as 3 months, wherein the individual will be required to follow specific guidelines provided by the fertility specialist to maximise the chances of fertilization, transfer, and eventual pregnancy. The month period is consistent with the time frame that the egg takes in its final development journey. To ensure the best quality eggs are available for the IVF cycle adequate preparation helps.
Step 1: Stimulation
Stimulation is the first step in the IVF treatment cycle wherein the female is placed on hormone-based medication that facilitates ovaries to produce multiple follicles, which can eventually lead to multiple embryos. This in turn gives the individual a higher chance of implantation and eventual pregnancy. Stimulation is also the key to produce enough embryos to be able to use some in the current cycle and freeze others for future requirements.
Step 2: Retrieval & Collection
Egg retrieval and collection is the second step of the IVF cycle wherein a minor out-patient procedure is undertaken to collect the matured eggs from the ovaries to be fertilized in a laboratory. As part of this procedure, the physical will use a tiny needle with suction capability that can pierce through the vaginal wall, draining the fluid from follicles containing the eggs. The eventual number of eggs retrieved will depend on the age, history of infertility, response to medication and others.
Step 3: Laboratory
Fertilization of the eggs and the sperm in a laboratory is the third major step in the IVF cycle. Around 4-6 hours after the retrieval of the eggs that they reach final maturity, ready to be fertilized in the lab. Fertilization is achieved by two methods – conventional IVF and Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection wherein a specific sperm is selected to fertilize the egg based on its morphology and forward movement.
Step 4: Transfer
Embryo transfer is the final stage of the IVF process wherein mature eggs are retrieved from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized embryo is then transferred to a uterus surgically. This procedure can be performed using a woman’s own eggs and the partner’s sperm. Or it may involve eggs, sperm, or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. The process of an embryo transfer is similar to a pap smear, with the doctor using a speculum into the vagina to prevent the walls of the vagina from closing in. With the help of ultrasound scan for accuracy, the doctor will then implant the embryo into the uterus with a catheter. The embryos are thus passed on from the catheter and into the womb.
Implantation & Pregnancy support
The implantation of the embryos can take place up to 72 hours after the embryo transfer and therefore it is required as comprehensive and adequate for the patient. While it is no longer implied that everyone should have a mandatory period of best rest, it is however advisable in certain cases. Patients must stick to the routine of medicines prescribed, remain positive at all times, stay away from excessive heat and/or temperature fluctuations and not get too anxious about the pregnancy. It will be a two-week time period between the embryo transfer and a pregnancy test and precautions will be necessary in this time period.