IVF is the process of combining the male and female gametes in a laboratory (glass dish), under controlled environment to attain a healthy embryo useful for transfer in womb, where it will hopefully implant and result in a pregnancy.
Initially, this was developed for infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes but now the gamet has expanded to cater to several other causes of male and female infertility.
IVF and ICSI are essentially the same thing with only difference being the way the egg is fertilised. In IVF the sperm penetrates egg on its own, while in ICSI it is made to enter using micromanipulation under microscope by trained technicians. This is done when the sperm is unable to penetrate the egg wall (weak/poor quality or surgically extracted sperms).
Why was IVF/ICSI recommended to me?
Your doctor may recommend you this procedure if you have any of the following conditions-
1) blocked fallopian tubes
2) moderate to severe endometriosis
3) no or poor quality eggs
4) to check for genetic abnormality in embryo prior to conception or previous history of multiple miscarriages
5) no pregnancy despite multiple rounds of ovulation induction or IUI
6) severe PCOS
7) erectile or ejaculatory difficulty
8) nil sperm count or poor semen parameters of partner
What will be my IVF/ICSI process?
Starting your IVF journey can be an exciting period, bringing you close to your dream of parenthood. Keeping a realistic expectation from the treatment is beneficial to keep you motivated.
The basic steps involved in the process are as follows and may take 6-8 weeks for one cycle to be completed.
1) On your period day2/3 an ultrasound and few blood tests may be done and ovarian stimulation is started. You may be called again after 5-6 days for monitoring
2) After ~ 9-12 days of injection, egg retrieval under mild sedation is performed
3) fertilisation is done in the laboratory
4) embryo development is checked
5) you may be called for embryo transfer 3-5 days after egg retrieval
6) supportive medicines post embryo transfer
What to expect during and after IVF/ICSI process?
IVF can become a tiring and time consuming process for some. It is an inter-related series of events where every step needs completion of its previos step. You are advised to continue with routine daily work to keep yourself engaged and mentally relaxed. Mood swings, emotions of fear and depression are usual. You are encouraged to talk to your health provider for any untoward symptom.
What can help during the waiting period after embryo transfer?
This is the period of most anxiety and can get very stressful for some.
- do not obssess about pregnancy symptoms. Some of the medicines may make you feel bloated/ tender breasts/ feeling of sleepiness, however, it may not mean an actual pregnancy
- Keep yourself positively engaged in work or fun and relaxing activities
- Reach out for help or counseling sessions whenever needed
- do not do multiple pregnancy tests before the recommend day.
What are the factors affecting my treatment outcome?
Your outcome of treatment may depend on factors like-
• cause of infertility
• egg & sperm quality
• number of transferred embryos
• grade and stage of embryo
You should discuss your success rate with your treatment provider.