IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is a procedure used to overcome a range of fertility issues. It brings eggs and sperm together in a laboratory. The fertilized egg (embryo) is left to grow in a safe protected environment for several days before transferring an embryo into a woman’s uterus. IVF can be used to overcome a sequence of fertility issues. It is also important to make sure that you do require IVF and that your specialist approves of the treatment first. So getting the correct diagnosis is crucial, starting with an assessment from a fertility clinic that offers a range of treatment options is the safest option for you. If you are experiencing fertility issues, your fertility specialist may recommend IVF as a solution.
What to Expect with Your IVF Journey
We provide you with a step-by-step guide on what to expect if you’re going to have IVF done.
- Blood Tests
At the start of your menstrual cycle, your fertility clinic will let you know when you have to come in to have a blood test done. You will undergo a sequence of blood tests over the next few weeks. These blood tests help the fertility treatment specialist see how your body is reacting to ovarian stimulation.
- Hormone Stimulation
On the second or third day of your menstrual cycle, you will start with hormone stimulation treatment. This means you will start with injecting yourself with medication containing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) so that you can produce multiple eggs.
You will do this for several days while being monitored on the number of ovarian follicles through the use of an ultrasound. You may also need to take other medication to help your eggs mature and to prevent your body from releasing the eggs too early. For some women, this may happen after 8 days while others may take longer. This will depend on the results of your blood tests and your ultrasound tests.
- Trigger Injection
Once the eggs have reached a certain size and you have developed follicles, you will then be given the trigger injection. This specific injection contains the HCG hormone which triggers your ovary to mature the egg before its collection.
- Egg Retrieval
About 34 – 36 hours after your trigger injection, your eggs will be retrieved from your ovary either in a practise room or in an operating theatre. It is a quick procedure, however, performed under anaesthesia. The fertility specialist will collect your eggs with a thin needle using transvaginal ultrasound. The thin needle will go through your vagina wall into the follicles to retrieve the eggs. If the follicle cannot be accessed through the vagina you may have your eggs collected using laparoscopy through the abdomen.
You may feel some discomfort after the procedure. With some pain killers, you should be feeling better after a few days.
- Semen Sample
On the day of your egg retrieval surgery, your partner will be asked to produce a semen sample. If ejaculation isn’t possible a surgical procedure is performed to extract sperm directly from the testicles. In some cases, your doctor may discuss and advise the use of donated sperm if you are single or in same-sex relationships.
The prepared semen and eggs are brought together in a dish and incubate overnight. Fertilization is checked the next day and over the next couple of days, the embryos will begin to develop. In a case where sperm quality is poor due to low numbers or reduced motility, your specialist might recommend ICSI – Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection as the procedure type. This is when a single healthy sperm is injected in each mature egg. Depending on the amount of successfully fertilized eggs, you can freeze the remaining embryos and it can be used soon.
- Embryo Transfer
About five days after your egg collection, your fertility specialist will transfer an embryo into your uterus. The procedure is swift and painless and there is no need for anaesthetic.
- Pregnancy Test
Once the embryo has been transferred a two-week wait before you can do a test. A blood test is conducted as it is more precise than a standard home pregnancy test.
If you are pregnant, your new journey begins. If the test is negative, your specialist will review your cycle and discuss what will happen next.