In vitro fertilization or IVF is one of the most effective ways of fertilizing the egg with sperms to help a woman get pregnant. In this process, the eggs are taken from the ovaries of a woman and are mixed with the sperms from the partner or a sperm donor in well equipped laboratory culture equipment.
The fertilization occurs in the culture dish in the laboratory, which is made up of glass. The in vitro fertilization is very beneficial for a couple who fail to conceive naturally due to several reasons like blockage in fallopian tubes, infertility or low sperm count.
This process has a number of stages that needs to be followed by every couple who wish to go for IVF. It includes fertility drugs, hormone injections, retrieval of the eggs and collection of the sperm, and ends up with storing embryos for future use.
Stages of In Vitro Fertilization
The process of in vitro fertilization begins with fertility drugs. In this stage, the doctor prescribes some fertility drugs for you as it helps in stimulating the ovaries to produce mature eggs that are naturally ready for the fertilization. During the normal monthly menstrual cycle, women release only one egg.
Taking the fertility drugs can help your chances of conceiving faster, however, you can choose to ignore taking this drug but it often minimizes your odds of conceiving. You will also be given some drugs for controlling your menstrual cycle. It suppresses or stops the cycle on taking them for two weeks in the form of an injection or a tablet.
Hormone injections are given in the second stage of the in vitro fertilization daily for 12 days. These injections also help your ovary to produce an increased number of eggs that are fully matured. The hormones used include gonadotrophins, the follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone.
These injections may have some side effects thus it becomes important to monitor the blood pressure and sugar levels. Doctor monitors the levels of blood hormone to detect when the ovaries are ready with mature eggs. Then a human chorionic gonadotrophin injection is injected to release the eggs between 34-38 hours before the egg collection.
Retrieval of Eggs and Sperm Collection
In this stage of in vitro fertilization, an ultrasound is done to check whether the eggs are completely ready in the ovary so that they can be retrieved and used for fertilization.
The doctor then takes the mature eggs from the ovaries. Also, at the same time, your partner needs to provide some fresh semen sample, which is then used for fertilization.
The sperm from your partner is then washed and best quality sperms are extracted for fertilizing the eggs. Then the sperm is mixed with the eggs in a glass dish and are left in an incubator to culture.
Fertilization and Transferring the Embryo
The dish is checked after one day to see whether the eggs have fertilized. Upon fertilization, it is then transferred to the uterus between 2-5 days. The fertilized eggs then take the shape of a ball full of cells and are known as an embryo.
Extra embryos are saved and frozen for any future use. It comes into play, if the first attempt fails or in case you wish to have another child post a successful in vitro fertilization.
Photo Credit: http://thomsonfertility.com.sg/fertility-treatment-and-procedures/