IVF gives many infertile couples the best chance of achieving fertilisation and pregnancy. IVF is used for couples with tubal infertility, severe male factor infertility (where the eggs are inseminated by ICSI) and for couples with unexplained infertility.
What is involved?
- Suppressing your natural monthly cycle. This requires a daily injection of a hormone that suppresses your natural cycle and prevents you releasing your eggs before collection.
- Increasing the number of eggs produced. A second hormone injection is given to increase the number of eggs that are produced. The hormone used (follicle stimulating hormone) is identical to the hormone produced during a natural menstrual cycle.
- Monitoring your response. Blood tests and trans-vaginal ultrasound scans are used to check that an appropriate number of egg-containing follicles are growing.
- Egg collection. When the growing follicles reach the appropriate size, the eggs are collected from the ovaries. This is done using a vaginal ultrasound probe and a fine needle that is used to collect the eggs from the ovaries. Intra-venous sedation and pain relief is given.
- Fertilisation of the eggs. In the laboratory, eggs and sperm are mixed together and fertilisation occurs during the next 24 hours. In couples with male factor problems, intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used. In this procedure each egg is injected with a single sperm. Eggs are assessed for fertilisation after this time.
- Embryo transfer. After three to five days the embryos will be transferred. A small tube containing the embryos is inserted through the cervix into the uterus. Ultrasound scanning is used to confirm the embryo is placed in the correct part of the uterus. No pain relief is required. Any remaining good quality embryos are then frozen for future use.
- Luteal support. In the weeks after embryo transfer and during early pregnancy, progesterone hormones are given vaginally to help support the lining of the uterus.
IVF treatment cycles commence on day one of your menstrual period; some women will take the oral contraceptive pill to set the timing of their cycle.
Single embryo transfer (SET)
Fertility PLUS has a policy of single embryo transfer. The principle of single embryo transfer is to give each single embryo that is transferred its maximum opportunity to implant and develop into a healthy pregnancy, as well as prevent 'avoidable' multiple pregnancies.
Twin pregnancies carry a much greater risk for pregnant women and for the foetuses/babies than singleton pregnancies.