Natural fertility is when the woman is able to conceive a baby naturally. However, for those couples who are not able to have a baby naturally, there are various treatments through which they can become parents. Most women who are unable to conceive naturally opt to have an IVF baby. There are a series of steps in this treatment process that helps the woman get pregnant and have a baby.
What is IVF or in Vitro Fertilisation?
The eggs are removed from the ovaries and are then mixed with sperms in a culture dish in the laboratory. The egg is allowed to fertilise in the dish. The fertilised egg is then inserted into the uterus of the woman directly. The IVF process The IVF process is a step-by-step process:
Drugs-The woman is given fertility drugs that help to stimulate the ovaries and develops the mature eggs that get ready for fertilisation. Only one egg gets released in a normal menstrual cycle, but with more number of eggs, her chances of getting pregnant also increases. She will also be offered treatment that will control her menstrual cycle. This improves her chances of conceiving.
Injecting hormones – The woman is then injected with hormones daily for 12 days. This helps to stimulate the ovaries to release more number of mature eggs. The hormones injected are the luteinising hormone (LH) and the gonadotropin follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Some women, however, tend to develop side effects when this hormone is injected. The doctor monitors her blood hormone level to detect when the eggs matures. The woman is then injected with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which triggers the release of eggs between 34 and 38 hours before they are collected.
Retrieving eggs and collecting sperms – An ultrasound scan is done to know when the eggs are ready to be retrieved. When the eggs are ready, they are removed from the ovaries with the help of fine hollow needles that have been attached to the ultrasound scan probe. The probe locates the follicles that contain the eggs. The woman will be given anaesthesia during this process. Her partner will have to provide his sperms at this stage when the eggs are being collected. The sperm is combined with the egg and is kept in an incubator to culture.
Fertilisation and transfer of embryo – A day after the egg and the sperm gets combined, the dish is checked to see if the egg has fertilised. If they have fertilised, then they will be transferred to the uterus after 2-5 days. The fertilised egg becomes an embryo or must have entered the blastocyst stage. The healthy embryo is inserted in the uterus. She will be given progesterone to prepare her uterus to carry the embryo. This helps to thicken the uterus lining. One or two embryos are transferred with a catheter tube through the cervix into the uterus. The number of embryos transferred will depend a lot on the age of the woman and her chances of success.
If there are any extra embryos, then the doctor may freeze it to use later. If the cycle is successful, then one or more embryos will get implanted in the uterine wall and will start to grow. A pregnancy test can be taken in two weeks ‘time. An ultrasound at 6 weeks will let her know if the embryo has implanted in the uterus.