A method in which the fertilization of an egg happens outside the woman’s body and in a laboratory dish. This is then put into the uterus using the process of in vitro fertilization. Couples who fail to conceive due to infertility opt for this as a part of assisted reproductive technology (ART). Involving various steps, it is necessary to know about in vitro fertilization before considering going for one.
The Process of In Vitro Fertilization
First developed by Dr. Robert G Edwards who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 2010, the process where an egg is fertilized externally, in a laboratory, the Latin terms “in vitro” stand for “within the glass”, due to the fact that apparatus used in a laboratory was earlier made of glass unlike the case today. Controlling ovulation by the administration of hormones and that ova which is removed from the ovaries of the woman in an effort to externally fertilize them with donated sperm from the male. Babies that are born this way were popularly known as test-tube babies’.
In Vitro Fertilization Procedure
Undergoing a test to check the reserve of the ovaries prior to any medication being given, third day testing of FSH is done wherein the baseline of the hormone that stimulates the follicle is checked on day three of the menstrual cycle. Indicating a reduction in the number of eggs is an elevated baseline or the ovarian reserve helps the doctors determine and learn if there will be a response to the administration of drugs by the woman when stimulated to produce eggs. The number of eggs that stimulation produces influences the success rate of the IVF process.
The Process of In Vitro Fertilization
The following steps are involved in the IVF process:
- Stimulation: Rather than the one egg per month, the administered fertility drugs stimulate the woman’s ovaries to produce several eggs.
- Retrieval of Eggs: In the process of “follicular aspiration”, inserting a needle through the vagina of the woman, the doctor reaches the follicles in the ovaries containing the eggs. The needle, which connects to an apparatus that uses suction helps in aspirating some of the fluid and the eggs and the process is done with both the ovaries. The procedure is relatively painless; however, cramping may develop in some women after the surgery.
- Fertilization after Insemination: The best quality eggs are stored in controlled temperatures prior to fertilization and are mixed using the sperm that is obtained from the male partner in a process that is referred to as artificial insemination. The process when the sperm enters the egg a few hours afterwards is referred to as fertilization. If the chances of fertilization are low, the sperm is injected directly by doctors into the egg and this process is known intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
- Culturing of the Embryo: The division stages are undergone in an effort for embryo formation and careful monitoring of these stages of division are done by the lab technicians and doctors, to make sure that a development successfully aof the embryo that is maintained at parameters that are extremely rigid like temperature and sterility as well to avoid contamination of any sort. After the embryo has been screened to check on genetic disorders, it can be implanted.
- Implantation or Embryo Transfer: Three to five days after it is fertilized, implantation of the embryo in a woman’s womb happens using a process wherein the doctor inserts a catheter which is a thin tube through the cervix and into the womb. Containing embryos is the catheter and the success of the process of in vitro fertilization is dependent on the embryo sticking to the womb. Twin or triple pregnancy is sometimes possible due to implantation.
The risks of in vitro fertilization are:
Side effects varying from headaches to mood swings and bloating may be likely. Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS), a condition in which fluid accumulates in the chest and abdomen may develop in very rare cases. Experiences include decreased urination, abdominal pain and excessive weight gain in a short span of time (nearly about 10 pounds in a span of 3 to 5 days) as well as shortness of breath. The fluid is drained in severe cases with a needle.
The multiple pregnancies risk factor may lead to premature birth and when using donor eggs in in vitro fertilization may increase the chances of pre-eclampsia.
Those who are unable to naturally conceive will find this to be a boon and we hope this information will help in your decision in using IVF treatment.