In Vitro Fertilisation, commonly known as IVF, is a well-established treatment for women who have been unable to conceive. The procedure bypasses the fallopian tubes by removing eggs at source and fertilising them in a laboratory with a partner or a donor’s sperm.
The embryos are carefully monitored and the most healthy and likely to develop are placed into the uterus, hopefully resulting in a normal pregnancy.
When is IVF appropriate?
IVF was originally intended for treating women with blocked fallopian tubes but it will sometimes be successfully used where there is no apparent problem with the tubes and infertility remains unexplained. It may also be recommended as a treatment where there may be problem with the sperm
Does IVF follow a standard process?
IVF treatment has become a routine procedure with standard protocols, though the details of your treatment will be tailored to suit your particular situation. As part of your work-up for treatment Mr Norman-Taylor will review your case, including previous cycles and your hormone levels in order to individualise your cycle.
Once a decision has been made with you to move forward with IVF, Mr Norman-Taylor will discuss with you the practicalities of treatment, along with potential risks and complications.
The first step will be to have an appointment with one of the nursing staff who will work with your diary to plan the best time to start treatment. She will also review the paper-work, consent forms and blood tests that are required by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA). She will make it clear for you how to do your injections and what the next steps are.
When the treatment stage of IVF begins, natural hormones are injected to stimulate the production of eggs. The usual plan is to give slightly more than the natural dose so that you produce several follicles rather than the usual one. You will be expected to administer these injections yourself, although you won’t be left alone, as we will monitor your process with ultrasound scans to count the number of follicles and measure the thickness of the womb. There may also be blood tests to monitor the level of oestradiol and other hormones.
Depending on which protocol you are on, and the speed of your response, you will be taking injections for 10 to 21 days. Once the follicles are mature you will be given a final injection to start the ripening process and 36 hours later the eggs will be removed by a process known as egg collection. The eggs are removed through the vagina under sedation using ultrasound guidance and the process should last no longer than fifteen minutes. The eggs or oocytes are then transferred to be fertilised in the laboratory, using sperm from your partner or a donor.
The embyros are then carefully monitored and incubated in the laboratory until the optimum time for implantation in the uterus between three to five days later. At this stage, the best of the embyros are selected and normally one or two, dependent on your age and other factors will be transferred into the uterus.
If they are of a good quality remaining fertilised embryos aren’t discarded at this stage, but are frozen in case the treatment needs to be repeated.
At this point the procedure is complete, though there is a two-week gap before carrying out a pregnancy test. During this phase, you will normally be advised to take a hormone supplement. Whilst you are waiting it’s best to avoid strenuous activity or sports and take it very easy in the first week.
What is the risk of multiple pregnancy?
For many couples the idea of a twin pregnancy is attractive, and they will request that two embryos are replaced. However, twin pregnancies carry significantly higher risk than singleton, particularly that of premature birth.
Also, our data shows that when a couple have good quality blastocysts, the chances of pregnancy is almost the same whether one or two embryos are replaced.
It is very difficult for a couple to decide in advance, how many embryos are to be replaced. However do remember that a decision will need to be reached, in conjunction with the advice that you are given on the day.
What is the chance of success with IVF?
Your chance of conceiving through IVF depends upon several factors, but most importantly the female age. Mr Norman-Taylor’s clinics have had verified published pregnancy rates, in the top centile for more than 20 years.
If you wish to discuss whether IVF is the most appropriate fertility treatment for you, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01865 782856 to arrange a consultation. Alternatively, fill in the contact form and one of the team will be in touch.