IVF (In-vitro fertilization or a “test-tube baby” procedure) is the most advanced treatment for infertility. In IVF, fertilization of eggs occurs outside of the female body.
In IVF, multiple eggs are removed from the woman's ovary using a needle guided by ultrasound, under anesthesia and then mixed with her partner’s sperm. The resulting embryos are then kept in the incubator for several days and allowed to divide and grow.
The developing embryos are placed into the uterus by introducing a thin plastic catheter through the cervix.
If the quality of the man’s sperm is poor, his sperm may not be able to fertilize the eggs on their own. In these cases, one individual healthy sperm can be injected into the egg directly with a needle using the microscope. This process is called ICSI.
Men who have no sperm in the ejaculate may undergo a direct sperm aspiration from the epididymis or testis.
If the woman fails to develop good quality eggs, then couple may decide to use eggs obtained from a healthy and fertile donor.
The resulting embryos are then placed into the woman’s uterus at an appropriate time.
The process is as follows:
- The ovaries are stimulated using hormone injections to allow multiple eggs to grow (in a cycle, mostly only one egg is produced every month)
- The growth of the eggs in the ovaries, is monitored by repeated ultrasound and multiple hormone tests
- When the follicle size reaches an appropriate size, a hormone injection is given that causes the final maturation of the eggs.
- About 36 hours after the hormone injection, the eggs are retrieved (aspirated) from the ovaries by a needle which is introduced in the vaginal route under ultrasound guidance. This procedure is done under general anesthesia.
- The eggs are then mixed with the partner’s semen and placed in an incubator to fertilize
- These fertilized eggs known are as embryos. These embryos are placed into the uterus 2-5 days after fertilization. At a time, usually 2 embryos are transferred, the remaining embryos are frozen. These can be used later, thereby reducing the cost of treatment considered.
- The embryo transfer does not require anesthesia and the female can go home within an hour or so. She is advised to take the medication as prescribed.
- A blood test is done after two weeks to find out if the IVF procedure has been successful