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IVF or in vitro fertilization is a type of assisted reproduction technology (ART) used in the treatment of infertility. During the process, an egg is combined with a sperm outside the body of the person. The woman’s ovulatory process is stimulated and an egg or ovum is removed from the ovaries which are then fertilized by the sperm in a laboratory environment. The fertilized egg or zygote undergoes embryo culture and is then implanted back into the woman’s uterus for proceeding with the pregnancy. IVF treatment is generally undertaken by couples having difficulty in conceiving, same-sex couples or single women wishing to have a baby through sperm donation.
Why is IVF done?
IVF may be considered if you or your partner have one of these issues:
Women who lack a functional uterus or for whom pregnancy is not possible due to health risks might still choose IVF by using another person to carry the pregnancy (surrogate). In this case, the resulting embryos from IVF are placed in the surrogate's uterus.
The four primary steps involved in the IVF process are:
Before starting the IVF process, your specialist will monitor your ovaries to study the ovulation process. Most women are advised to take fertility medicines or hormones at this time to stimulate the ovaries for better egg production. If there are no eggs produced, donor eggs may be considered.
During this step, a very thin needle is passed through the upper vaginal wall to remove the fluid from the follicles by using suction. The egg is then isolated from the follicular fluid. It is transferred to a culture dish which is then placed in an incubator.
Next step involves fusing the egg with an active sperm from your partner or a donor. The fused egg and sperm are placed in the incubator to observe for the development of a healthy embryo.
The final step of IVF is the transfer of the embryo to the uterus. The healthiest embryos are selected for transfer. If successful, an embryo will implant in the lining of your uterus about a week after egg retrieval. After the IVF process is complete, the person is monitored for the smooth progress of pregnancy
What are the risks involved?
IVF process carries certain risks such as:
About two weeks after egg retrieval, your doctor will test your blood for pregnancy. The chances of a successful IVF depends on factors like the mother’s age, reproductive history, the cause of fertility and lifestyle factors of the parents. Experts at IVF treatment hospitals will explain in detail about the factors that apply to you and how they may affect your chances of a successful pregnancy.