Steps involved in the IVF Procedure

Introduction:

IVF, In Vitro Fertilization, is a treatment procedure to treat infertility when the alternative procedures of assisted reproduction have failed to deliver desirable outcomes. In this procedure, egg cells get fertilized by sperms externally in an artificial manner. The embryo then formed is placed into the expected mother womb for further maturation. Simply put, the term in vitro corresponds to a biological method, which is executed outside the body of the mother.

History:

This technique was first successfully performed in England in 1976. At present, IVF treatments are used for treating infertile couples to help them become parents.

At first, IVF was developed to counter infertility problems of the fallopian tube. However, now this technique is used to cure a large number of problems including, unexplained infertility, endometriosis and male factor infertility.

During the conventional or standard IVF treatment procedure, the operating doctor follows a series of steps that include, Ovarian stimulation, Egg retrieval from the patient, Sperm retrieval from the male, Fertilization of the retrieved eggs with sperms and Embryo transfer to the woman's uterus.

IVF Process-Step by Step

The IVF procedure kick starts with general checkups that involve both the parent. This is done to assess the main cause of the problem. Also, these checkups are performed to evaluate the mother's overall health standards that help in devising the treatment plan. Details such as menstruation dates, possible allergy are ascertained.

Step 1: Control Ovarian Hyperstimulation:

The IVF procedure starts with the first step called ovarian stimulation that commences on the third day of menstruation. The female parent is given medications that are meant to trigger the development of follicles in the ovaries in large number. This is done to make the ovaries generate more than one egg.

Step 2: Egg Retrieval:

Further, medicines are given followed by continuous monitoring of the ovarian follicles growth using gynecologic ultrasonography. When the follicle growth is found to be satisfactory, the ovulation process is started. Then, the eggs are eliminated with the help of the transvaginal method that is stored in a lab safely.

Step 3: Fertilization:

In the lab, the follicles are separated from the fluid, and the next process is started called fertilization. In the fertilization step, the cells present around egg and semen that remain inactive are separated from the sperm in order to boost the fusion process. The fusion of egg and the sperm is allowed to take place in an incubated environment. This process of fusion takes a period of 18 hours to complete.

Step 4: Embryo Culture:

The eggs that get fertilized are termed as "zygotes". The zygotes are cultured in a specially formulated cultural medium for further growth. After being assessed for two days in a row, embryos may be selected to reach the blastocyst stage.

Step 5: Embryo Quality:

After the embryo culture, the quality of the embryo is assessed. A lot of criteria are used here. During the morning on the day of the transfer, the embryologist evaluates and photographs the embryos. On the basis of the rate of development and appearance of the embryos, the embryologist and the operating physician takes a decision. After gauging the quality, the embryos are transferred at the day three, i.e. cleavage stage or at the day five, i.e. blastocyst stage

There are some cases in which the individuals are reported to have a lower sperm count. In such cases, the sperm is directly injected into the egg without involving the waiting period of fusion. As the fused egg reaches the 6 to 8 level of cell development, it is put back in the uterus of the mother.

Besides these conventional steps of IVF, there is a multitude of details which the concerned couple should know in order to understand what they are heading for beforehand.

Like every other procedure, IVF involves several complications including, multiple births, obstetrical complications, neonatal morbidity, prematurity, increased risk of pregnancy loss.

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Hence, make sure to Discuss the ins and outs of the IVF process before embarking on a new journey.