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30Sep

Many couples who are struggling with fertility consider In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) to be one of the most promising options available, which is not surprising considering the procedure’s relatively high success rates. IVF can bypass and circumvent most causes of infertility because the egg is joined to the sperm in a laboratory setting and then implanted back into the mother’s uterus. While that is a fairly basic summary of what IVF does, below we’ve explained the 5 primary steps involved in IVF to help moms and moms-to-be become familiar with the process before making a commitment:

Step 1 – The Initial Consultation and Mock Embryo Transfer

In the initial visit, you’ll consult with your doctor about the basics of the procedure and what’s involved. Your doctor will also perform a Mock Embryo Transfer, which is basically a spoof fertilisation that helps the physician choose the appropriate size and placement for the catheter that will be used during the actual procedure. This is essentially a practice run in which the doctor uses a very thin catheter while monitoring the injection via sonogram. Most patients find this process to be comparable to having a pap smear done. To conclude the initial visit, the doctor will go over the results of the Mock Embryo Transfer with you and disclose a treatment timeline and protocol. Some doctors may recommend that you take birth control pills in the days leading up to the start of the In Vitro Fertilisation cycle.

Step 2 – Stimulating and Monitoring the Production of Eggs

In a typical woman’s ovulation cycle, normally only one egg matures each month. However, to maximise the chances of success, IVF treatment involves stimulating the ovaries to produces more eggs than usual, which is achieved by injecting stimulation medications into the woman’s ovaries over the course of 8 to 14 days. These medications consist primarily of components derived from the same hormones that influence the natural ovulation process (LH and FSH). During this phase of the IVF cycle you’ll go to about 7 doctor’s visits so that they can monitor the progress of the egg production and maturation using transvaginal ultrasounds and bloodwork. Your doctor or nurse may then follow up with you about the results of each monitoring session via a phone call or at the next visit.

Step 3 – Introducing the Trigger Shot and Retrieving the Egg

Once you’ve started producing an abundance of eggs, the size of the egg follicles reaches about 18mm or larger, and your oestrogen levels are in the proper range, then the doctor will introduce an injection to induce ovulation (the trigger shot). About 36 hours after the trigger shot your doctor will retrieve a suitable egg and begin to thaw out a sample of your partner’s sperm. While other steps in the IVF process may vary depending on the provider, this step is the same whether you’re having IVF done in a clinic in Spain or Australia – a trigger shot must be used to induce ovulation so that the doctor can be in a position to retrieve the egg prior to the start of ovulation.

Step 4 – Developing and Fertilising the Embryo

Once the doctor has collected and prepared a decent amount of eggs, an embryology expert will then begin the process of developing and fertilising the embryo. This may be done through conventional fertilisation, which involves exposing the sperm to the eggs in the lab, or via Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), which involves injecting the sperm directly into the egg (used in cases where the sperm volume or mobility is too low to allow the sperm to penetrate the egg without assistance).

Step 5 – The Real Embryo Transfer and Pregnancy Test

Finally, once an embryo has been developed it will be inserted into the uterus via a catheter that will be guided by an abdominal sonogram. Despite being one of the most important steps in the process, this procedure only takes a few minutes and is very similar to the Mock Embryo Transfer from step 1. The fertilised egg is pushed into the woman’s uterus using a tiny amount of air pressure. The catheter is removed slowly to reduce the likelihood of inducing any unwanted uterine contractions. About 18 days after the date of the egg retrieval, your doctor will order pregnancy tests to confirm whether or not the IVF was a success.

Don’t Hesitate to Try More Than Once

If the first round is not successful, it can be disappointing and discouraging, but it is important to remember that sometimes it may take a few tries for IVF to work. Your doctor will discuss your options for trying again and will offer guidance on how you can maximise your chances of success the second time around. We hope this guide has been helpful for any mums out there considering IVF.

  

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