Milann | The Fertility Specialist




IVF Explained: What is IVF? Doctor Sheds Light On Need, Risks And Success

What Is IVF?

In vitro fertilization or IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology that helps couples achieve pregnancy, explains Dr Anu Sadashiv, Reproductive Medicine Specialist at Milann Fertility and Birthing Hospital Kumara Park Bangalore.  This method is of great help for couples who are unable to conceive naturally and wish to embrace parenthood. This fertility treatment is done in a lab where the sperm of the father and the eggs of the mother are combined and fertilized. This is a complex and tedious process. The couple, especially the mother, has to undergo several painful steps to implant the fertilized egg in her uterus. However, not all implantations result in pregnancy as despite all the efforts, some embryos fail to grow.

Why choose IVF?

Over the years, IVF has gained popularity in India. This could be either due to extensive promotion or the setting up of IVF centres in almost all cities across the country. Couples dealing with infertility or pregnancy-related issues are seeking support from IVF specialists to start a family. While a majority of couples undergo IVF due to fertility issues, here are some other reasons why IVF can be considered:

 Late pregnancy or advanced maternal age

 Failures of other fertility methods and treatments

 Same-sex couples who wish to have a child

  Poor ovarian reserve

  Women with endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, and other ovarian conditions

   Low sperm count in the male partner.

 Unexplained infertility

            Parent(s) having a genetic condition that may pass on to the baby through natural pregnancy

Reasons Why IVF Is A Great Option: 

IVF has been considered a boon for infertile couples for several reasons. Here are some of the key benefits:

Overcoming infertility: IVF offers a chance for couples who have been unsuccessful in conceiving naturally to have a child.

      Treating various fertility issues: IVF can address a range of fertility issues, including fallopian tube damage, ovulation disorders,  endometriosis, male factor infertility, and unexplained infertility.

      Genetic testing: IVF allows for preimplantation genetic testing, which can help identify genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities in embryos before implantation, reducing the risk of passing them on to the child.

      Increased pregnancy rates: IVF has higher success rates compared to other fertility treatments, increasing the chances of achieving pregnancy and having a healthy baby.

Steps of IVF:

This is a complex treatment with multiple steps. The steps involved in IVF may vary slightly depending on the specific protocol followed by the fertility clinic, but here are the general steps:

Step 1- Ovarian stimulation: Medications are administered to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.

Step 2- Egg retrieval: The eggs are collected from the ovaries using a minor surgical procedure called transvaginal ultrasound-guided aspiration.

Step 3- Sperm collection: A semen sample is obtained from the male partner or a donor.

Step 4- Fertilization: The retrieved eggs and sperm are combined in a laboratory dish for fertilization through conventional IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected into each egg.

Step 5- Embryo culture: The fertilized eggs (embryos) are cultured in a laboratory for a few days to allow for development.

Step 6- Embryo transfer: One or more embryos are transferred into the uterus using a catheter.

Step 7- Pregnancy test: About two weeks after the embryo transfer, a pregnancy test is conducted to determine if the IVF procedure was successful.

What to expect after IVF?

While IVF can be an effective fertility treatment, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects. Some common risks and side effects include:

Multiple pregnancies: IVF increases the chances of having multiple pregnancies, which may carry a higher risk of complications.

Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): In some cases, the medications used for ovarian stimulation can lead to OHSS, causing abdominal pain, bloating, and fluid accumulation.

Egg retrieval risks: The egg retrieval procedure carries a small risk of bleeding, infection, or damage to surrounding structures.

Emotional and psychological impact: The IVF process can be emotionally and psychologically challenging, as it involves a rollercoaster of hope, anticipation, and potential disappointment.

How successful is IVF:

The success rate of IVF depends on various factors like maternal age, quality of eggs and sperm, cause of infertility, and obviously, the expertise of the fertility clinic. Generally, the success rates range from around 30% to 50% per cycle, with higher success rates for younger women. It is advisable to consult with a fertility specialist who can provide personalized information based on individual circumstances.

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