In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Is a form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), where special medical techniques are used to help a woman become pregnant. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has been successfully used since 1978.
There are five basic steps to IVF:
Step 1: Stimulation through medication
Step 2: Egg retrieval
Step 3: Insemination and Fertilization
Step 4: Embryo culture
Step 5: Embryo transfer
IVF is used to overcome various causes of infertility, including: age of the woman, damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, male factor infertility, endometriosis, unexplained infertility.
Women taking fertility medicines may experience side effects (bloating, mood swings, headaches, abdominal pain). Repeated injections of IVF medicines may cause bruising. In rare cases, fertility drugs may cause Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This condition causes fluid retention in the abdomen and chest.
Egg retrieval may carry a risk for the following: reactions to anesthesia, bleeding, infection and damage to structures surrounding the ovaries.
There is a risk of multiple pregnancies when more than one embryo is placed into the womb. Carrying more than one baby at a time increases the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.
Before a sperm can fertilize an egg, the head of the sperm needs to attach to the outside of the egg. Then it pushes through the outer layer of the egg to the inside of its cytoplasm. Sometimes the sperm cannot penetrate the outer layer. In such case, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is performed by injecting sperm directly into the center of the egg. The fertilized egg grows in a laboratory for one to five days; then it is transferred to the woman's uterus.
ICSI is used to overcome a man's fertility problems (inadequate sperm number or poor quality). It is also used for older couples or for those with failed IVF attempts. ICSI results in success rates are similar to those of IVF.