- What All Women Need To Know
Why are more and more women now patronising various IVF clinics all over the country? What is so special about IVF?
City People recently discovered that despite the much talk about IVF, many women don’t know what IVF is all about. We can tell you that for free. It’s a kind of Fertility treatment called In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF). It is a fertility treatment in which Sperm and Eggs are combined in a laboratory. The resulting embryos are assessed for quality, and one or more are placed in the uterus through the cervix.
City People gathered that IVF is by far the most commonly used high-tech fertility treatment, accounting for more than 99 per cent of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures. Research shows that many babies born in the United States (US) are conceived using ART. The number is on the increase in Nigeria also.
IVF can help you get pregnant if you have problems with ovulation or egg quality, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis; if your partner has problems with sperm count or mobility; or if you’re using donor eggs to become pregnant.
IVF may also be an option if your doctor can’t pinpoint the problem (this is called “unexplained infertility”) or if other treatments have been unsuccessful.
HOW DOES IVF WORK?
IVF, which stands for In vitro fertilization, is one of the more widely known types of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). IVF works by using a combination of medicines and surgical procedures to help sperm fertilize an egg, and help the fertilized egg implant in your uterus.
First, you will take medication that makes several of your eggs mature and ready for fertilization. Then the doctor takes the eggs out of your body and mixes them with sperm in a lab, to help the sperm fertilize the eggs. Then they put 1 or more fertilized eggs (embryos) directly into your uterus. Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos implants in the lining of your uterus.
IVF has many steps, and it takes several months to complete the whole process. It sometimes works on the first trial, but many people need more than 1 round of IVF to get pregnant. IVF definitely increases your chances of pregnancy if you’re having fertility problems, but there’s no guarantee – everyone’s body is different and IVF won’t work for everyone.
HOW LONG WILL IVF TAKE?
It usually takes about 4 to 6 weeks to complete one cycle of IVF. You have to wait a few weeks for your eggs to mature. Then you and your partner spend about half a day at your doctor’s office or clinic having your eggs retrieved and fertilized. You have to go back again three to 5 days later to have the embryos inserted into your uterus, but you’ll be able to go home that same day.
WHAT’S THE SUCCESS RATE?
The outcomes of IVF vary dramatically, depending on each couple’s reasons for infertility and their ages. Younger women usually have healthier eggs and higher success rates. Based on recent national data, the percentage of IVF cycles resulting in a live birth (in which one or more babies are born) is about:
40 per cent for women age 34 and under, 31 per cent for women age 35 to 37, 21 per cent for women age 38 to 40, 11 per cent for women age 41 to 42, 5 per cent for women age 43 and above.
WHAT ARE THE PROS OF IVF?
(A) Successful track record: IVF is the oldest assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure on the block – it’s been around since 1978. IVF has been used long enough for researchers to have done extended health studies on the children conceived, using this method. So far, no medical problems have been directly linked to the procedure.
(B) No Link To Cancer: Recent studies have shown no connection between ovulation-inducing fertility drugs and cancer. Early studies suggested that exposure to fertility drugs might lead to a higher risk of ovarian cancer or other cancers of the female reproductive system.
(C) Improved Techniques: Researchers continue to refine and improve IVF procedures. For example, advances in embryo cryopreservation (freezing) have resulted in IVF pregnancy rates that are about the same for frozen and fresh embryos.
WHAT ARE THE CONS OF IVF?
(1) Costly And Time-consuming: Fertilizing your eggs outside of your body requires costly lab work and medications. Monitoring your response to fertility drugs also requires a lot of time, with frequent trips to the doctor’s office for blood tests and ultrasounds.
(2) Odds Of Multiples. Because more than one embryo may be placed in your uterus, your chance of having twins or more is about 20 per cent. Though many couples consider this a blessing, multiple fetuses increase your risk of miscarriage and other complications, such as preterm labour. Some doctors will advise you to consider a selective reduction if three or more embryos implant is successful. This is a serious decision with major emotional and psychological consequences. IVF researchers are working on techniques to prevent multiple fetuses.
(3) Risk Of Ectopic Pregnancy: Women who have difficulty getting pregnant have an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, regardless of how they conceive. And all assisted reproductive technology treatments, including IVF, also make an ectopic pregnancy more likely. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants in a fallopian tube or the abdominal cavity rather than in the uterus. It’s treated with the medication methotrexate or by surgically removing the embryo to prevent it from severely injuring the mother by continuing to grow.
(4) Risk Of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (Ohss) OHSS can happen when women respond too well to fertility drugs and produce too many eggs. About 10 to 20 per cent of women who take gonadotropins develop a mild form of OHSS, a condition marked by weight gain and a full, bloated feeling. Some also have shortness of breath, dizziness, pelvic pain, nausea, and vomiting. If you have OHSS, your ovaries swell to several times their normal size and produce fluid that accumulates in your abdominal cavity. Normally this resolves itself with careful monitoring by a physician and bed rest. But in rare cases, it’s life-threatening, and you may have to be hospitalized for more intensive monitoring or treatment.
(5) Potential Complications For Baby: Babies conceived with high-tech treatments for infertility such as IVF may be more likely to be born prematurely or have a low birth weight. They may also have a slightly higher risk of birth defects. But experts aren’t sure whether that’s from the factors that cause infertility (such as age) or the treatments.
(6) It May Not Work: Up to 20 per cent of IVF cycles may be cancelled before eggs are retrieved, usually because not enough follicles developed. Reducing the risk of OHSS is another reason for cancellation.
THE IVF PROCESS
The first step in IVF is taking fertility medications for several months to help your ovaries produce several eggs that are mature and ready for fertilization. This is called ovulation induction. You may get regular ultrasounds or blood tests to measure your hormone levels and keep track of your egg production.
Once your ovaries have produced enough mature eggs, your doctor removes the eggs from your body (this is called egg retrieval). Egg retrieval is a minor surgical procedure that’s done at your doctor’s office or at a fertility clinic.
You’ll get medicine to help you be relaxed and comfortable during the procedure. Using an ultrasound to see inside your body, the doctor puts a thin, hollow tube through your vagina and into the ovary and follicles that hold your eggs. The needle is connected to a suction device that gently pulls the eggs out of each follicle.
In a lab, your eggs are mixed with sperm cells from your partner or a donor — this is called insemination. The eggs and sperm are stored together in a special container, and fertilization happens. For sperm that has lower mobility (don’t swim as well), they may be injected directly into the eggs to promote fertilization. As the cells in the fertilized eggs divide and become embryos, people who work at the lab monitor the progress.
About 3-5 days after the egg retrieval, 1 or more embryos are put into your uterus (this is called embryo transfer). The doctor slides a thin tube through your cervix into your uterus and inserts the embryo directly into your uterus through the tube.
Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos attach to the lining of your uterus. Embryo transfer is done at your doctor’s office or at a fertility clinic, and it’s usually not painful.
Plan on resting for the rest of the day after your Embryo transfer. You can go back to your normal activities the next day. You may also take pills or get daily shots of a hormone called Progesterone for the first 8-10 weeks after the embryo transfer. The hormones make it easier for the embryo to survive in your uterus.