IVF In-Vitro Fertilization
IVF or in-vitro fertilization as its known is a fertilization process. In normal course fertilization of an egg by a sperm occurs within the body of the female in her fallopian tubes. However at times due to a multitude of reasons this natural process might get hampered or blocked. In such cases, this fertilization is done externally in a sterile environment by specialized doctors, outside the body of the female.
Since this fertilization is done in an external artificial environment hence it is referred to as "In-Vitro" which in Latin means in glass.
How is IVF procedure done?
IVF is a simple to understand procedure; it involves 5 basics steps, which combine to help you achieve a successful pregnancy.
- Step 1: Achieving healthy Egg development in the Ovaries
- Step 2: Collecting the healthy eggs
- Step 3: Procuring the Sperm
- Step 4: Combining the Egg and Sperm in Laboratory to allow for the fertilization to take place
- Step 5: Transferring the fertilized egg (known as Embryo) into the uterus
A detailed looks at these steps to better understand what they involve.
When an IVF procedure is conducted, great care needs to be taken about getting the right quality and sufficient number of eggs for fertilization, to ensure better chances at success. To do so the IVF doctor, will administer certain fertility medication. These are generally hormones, which are administered so as to control the time and quantity of eggs ripened. This helps in ensuring that the eggs are available at right time for retrieval from the ovary and conducting the external fertilization. This will ensure that the chances of a successful pregnancy are maximized. After administering these medications, the ovaries are monitored regularly via ultrasound, and routine test. The hormonal treatment is referred to as 'Ovulation Induction'
At the right time, laparoscopic surgery is conducted to retrieve the eggs. This surgery is done under local anaesthesia and sedation. These eggs are retrieved using a hollow needle from the ovaries itself, and this procedure is known as follicular aspiration. Multiple eggs are retrieved as some eggs might not fertilize or face some other issues. Multiple eggs help in maximizing the chances of success. Following this procedure some patients might experience some cramping on the day often procedure, however this soon gets sorted out.
Sperm is collected generally via the ejaculation process. In some cases if these are other complications your doctor might recommend other options like surgery or sperm donor. It is pivotal to collect the sperms at the right time to ensure that the next step of combining the egg and sperm can take place as on schedule
The process of combining the egg and sperm is known as insemination. This occurs in the same manner as it would within the female's body. Except the environment here is that of incubator. The egg and the sperms are placed in an incubator that provides conducive environment for fertilization to occur naturally. These eggs are monitored for fertilization and further for normal divisional cell growth. In certain cases, where the sperm is structurally lacking or low sperm count condition another procedure called 'Intra cytoplasmic Sperm injection is conducted. In this procedure a single sperm is injected directly into the egg retrieved form the ovaries. This ensures that the egg is fertilized. After the egg is fertilized and undergoes normal cell division it is known as embryo
Once the eggs are in the embryo state, the next step is placing of these embryos into the uterus. Usually this procedure is done within 1-6 days of the retrieval of the eggs. Once fertilized the eggs multiple and become two-four cell embryo within a couple of days. It is usually at this stage that the embryo is ready for placement in the uterus. This transfer process if simple and painless, however the patient might experience mild cramping in some cases. The number of embryo to be placed is predetermined by the doctor in consultation with the patient.
This completes the IVF procedure. And from here on the body of the female has to take over. After the completion of the process, doctor will monitor the patient for early pregnancy symptoms. Regular blood and urine test, along with ultrasound will help in determining if the embryo has implanted successfully and the pregnancy has occurred. Once this is achieved successfully the IVF procedure can be termed as a success.
Your IVF doctor will generally monitor you during the entire term of pregnancy to keep a general eye on the health of the baby and the mother to be.
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