In Vitro Fertilization, IVF, is one of the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) that is available to help individuals and couples with reproductive challenges have children. It is a method that combines artificial and natural reproductive and gestational process to give children to people with reproductive challenges.
Prior to the improved techniques in In Vitro fertilization that we have now, it has always been an issue for people with infertility due to some reason to have children. IVF gives such people hope and with the increasing success rates all over the world, it would soon be available to all, even those with lesser success chance.
In this article, you will get all you need to know about In Vitro fertilization, IVF; why people consider IVF, factors that make IVF attractive for certain people, the processes involved in IVF and complications that may arise from it.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
Pregnancy is not an easy occurrence for some people. It can be quite depressing for some individuals and couples when they are unable to make a child. When some get to be pregnant, it could be dangerous pregnancies such as ectopic pregnancy that may be caused due to blocked fallopian tubes. To the aid of these people is this Assisted Reproductive Technology that involves the removal of ovaries from the woman and retrieval of semen from the man.
In Vitro Fertilization has continued to gain popularity due to the increasing success rates fertility clinics now have. The chances of getting a child after the age of 40 now looks more likely for some women.
To go through with IVF, there are different process that make up the almost endless journey, and some decisions you need to take. Some of these decisions revolve around the embryo and your health.
- How many embryos will you like to transfer into your uterus?
- Are you comfortable with multiple births; twins, triplets, or more?
- What will happen to any unused embryos?
- Can you cope with trying again and again if need be?
- Will the financial and emotional stress not be too much for you?
These are some questions you need to personally answer in order to be sure you are ready for a big step like this. Sometimes, it is emotionally stressful to have a baby by a donor’s semen or egg, or both.
Who Should Consider In Vitro Fertilization?
While In Vitro Fertilization is available for every person who will like to pursue parenthood using this method, it is best suited for certain people. These people have medical conditions that makes it impossible, difficult or dangerous for them to have a natural conception.
- Low Sperm Count
- Poor Egg Quality
- Risk of Ectopic Pregnancy
- Fallopian tube or Uterus problem
- Poor sperm motility
- Genetic disease
- Ovulation problem
Any of the above conditions could prompt a couple’s need for In Vitro Fertilization.
Processes of In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro Fertilization, IVF is done in stages and processes. The chances of success might look good but the journey may be far. Before the IVF process begins, there is always the first step:
Before the full-on IVF processes begin, the couple whose eggs and sperm will be used need to be tested.
The woman’s blood sample will be taken and tested for the level of follicle stimulating hormone the ovary produces. This test is called Ovarian reserve Testing. It is aimed at providing information about your egg size and quality.
Next is the uterus. Your doctor will test your uterus, most likely using an ultrasound, to check for its health condition. Sometimes, further uterus testing is done by inserting a scope into your uterus through your vagina for a closer look. It helps the doctor determine how best to implant your embryo.
The man’s sperm, contained in his semen, will be tested too. The doctor will check for sperm count, sperm motility, sperm shape and size. If the sperm is of low quality, that is it is weak, it may be necessary that intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) procedure is done. This procedure involves injecting sperm directly into the egg.
This process involves the use of medication (hormones), usually through injections to make the woman’s ovaries produce multiple eggs.
Normally, a woman produces an egg in every menstrual cycle. However, for an increased chance of success in IVF, many eggs are needed to develop multiple embryos.
The stimulation process is where the woman eggs are ripened by medication.
This stage is done using an ultrasound wand. The wand guides a needle with a hollow head, through your vagina, to the follicles on your ovary. The ripened eggs gotten during stimulation are sucked out of the follicles by this needle.
To perform this stage, the woman is under anesthetics while the doctor performs the surgery.
In this stage, the man’s semen – donated on that day – will be mixed with the egg in a petri dish. If this fails to produce an embryo, your doctor may recommend using the ICSI procedure.
This is the stage that comes after the successful fertilization of the egg by the man’s sperm. It is the stage where the fertilized egg starts to grow and divide. At this stage, some tests for genetic disorders may be tested for.
This is usually the last process of IVF. It involves the transfer of the developing embryo (it must be three to five days after fertilization) into the uterus using a catheter. The catheter – a thin tube – hold the embryo and is inserted through the vagina, into the uterus – where the embryo is released.
The embryo is expected to implant in the endometrium (uterus wall lining) in 6 to 10 days. After this period, pregnancy tests are run to determine the success of the process.
Complications Associated with In Vitro fertilization
The processes highlighted above seem very straight forward and easy for fertility technicians and doctors to handle. However, there are complication that may arise from In Vitro Fertilization, as there are in other medical interventions. Some of the complications are:
IVF is not a pass for pregnancy safety and complication. It majorly helps in getting fertilization, conception, and sometimes, implantation out of the way.
It is still possible for implanted embryo to be lost through miscarriage. However, if this happens, the In Vitro Fertilization process has to be repeated from the insemination stage to the transfer stage.
Bleeding, damage, or infection to the bowels or bladder
Damage to the bowels or bladder is possible, especially during the transfer process. This might cause issues later if the damage is extensive or infected.
During the transfer process, doctors usually transfer two or more embryos into the uterus for higher chances of success. While some will transfer two, others may transfer up to five. In the case that more than one embryo implants and continues developing, there is a chance that the woman will have more than one child.
This may lead to preterm birth or low weight births.
This is a condition that arises from the stimulation of the ovary to produce multiple eggs. Although it is rare, it is a possibility. It is characterized by excessive fluid retention in the chest and abdomen region.
Chances of Having a Child with IVF?
The chances of having a child with In Vitro Fertilization, IVF, has increased over the years. The statistics for Nigeria are unavailable. However, in the United States, women who are under the age of 35 have a 41 to 43 percent live birth rate while over-40 women have 25 to 30 percent.
The success of IVF depends on the carrier’s age, cause of infertility, and the fertility clinic you wish to use.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is the most used Assisted Reproductive Technology in the world, today. It is done by retrieving eggs from a woman’s ovary and fertilizing that egg with sperm. This procedure has helped couple that have infertility issues, dangerous pregnancy issues, or genetic conditions have healthy children.
Its success is determined by some factors such as the reason for infertility and the technology used in your fertility clinic of choice.
Regardless of your reproductive condition, science keeps searching for breakthroughs for you. Keep hope alive!
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Ayomide, is a Health professional, who has worked in most healthcare unit and has a background in Nursing.