IVF involves collecting eggs and sperm from a couple and placing them together in a laboratory dish to fertilize outside the body, or in vitro. The fertilized eggs are then transferred several days later into the woman's uterus, or womb, where implantation and embryo development will hopefully occur just as in a normal pregnancy.
IVF is a four-stage procedure : -
- Stage 1 - Ovarian stimulation and monitoring
- Stage 2 - Egg (oocyte) retrieval
- Stage 3 - Fertilization
- Stage 4 - Embryo transfer
Stage 1: Ovarian Stimulation and Monitoring
Your IVF Specialists will want to maximize your chances for fertilization with each IVF attempt. To do so, ovarian stimulation will be used to produce multiple mature follicles, rather than the single egg normally developed each month. By having several mature eggs available for fertilization and transfer, it is hoped that at least one will result in pregnancy.
Monitoring Ovarian Stimulation : -
Your physician will carefully monitor your response to medications by one or both of the following methods : -
Ultrasound is a technology that turns sound waves into pictures. Your physician will use a series of ultrasound scans to obtain an actual image of the ovaries and to regularly monitor follicle growth in the ovary beginning on or before Day 8 of the cycle. As follicles mature, they grow larger. Through ultrasound, your physician can observe follicle growth, number and size, and can determine follicle maturity and prepare for hSG administration.
Ultrasound may be performed abdominally or vaginally. The sound waves cannot be felt and the procedure is painless. There have been no reported harmful effects on developing eggs or on an early pregnancy.
- Blood estrogen levels
Another way your physician can monitor the response to FSH is through the use of blood tests. Developing follicles secrete increasing amounts of the estrogen hormone, particularly estradiol (E2). Along with ultrasound, E2 levels are used to determine the optimal timing for the administration of hSG, which acts as an ovulatory trigger and is the final step leading to egg recovery. Your E2 level will be monitored by a blood test, usually every other day, starting on or before Day 8 of the cycle.
The next stage of therapy is called egg recovery or retrieval. Once hSG is administered, your physician will try to retrieve as many mature eggs as possible. Not all of the eggs retrieved will be used in the current IVF cycle.
Stage 3: Fertilization
About 2 hours before the eggs are retrieved, a semen sample is collected from the male partner and processed using various laboratory techniques. The goal is to obtain the strongest, most active sperm from the ejaculate. This process is called sperm washing.
Once mature eggs have been retrieved, the sperm and egg are placed together in the laboratory and incubated at a temperature identical to that of the woman's body. After about 48 hours, if the eggs have been successfully fertilized and are growing normally, they are ready to be transferred to the uterus. This is called embryo transfer.
Stage 4: Embryo Transfer
Embryo transfer is not a complicated procedure and can be performed without anesthesia. The embryos are placed in a catheter (a tubular instrument ) and transferred into the uterus. Any embryos that have not been transferred can be frozen (or cryopreserved) and stored for future use.
Who Are the Donors ?
Oocyte donation programs may use two types of donors : -
- Anonymous donors
- Friends or family
Patients who have produced a large number of follicles for an ART procedure may be asked if they are willing to donate unused oocytes. Alternative sources of donor oocytes are close friends or relatives who undergo ovarian stimulation in order to help the recipient or women who agree to become egg donors.
You may discuss with your our IVF and Surrogacy Manager or the IVF Specialist any medical, ethical or legal issues that you may have concerning this procedure. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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