In vitro fertilization (IVF) is assisted reproductive technology. It is a procedure of
choice to help couples conceive a baby when other modalities have failed.In the IVF
clinic, the fertility doctor collects mature eggs from your ovary and fertilizes these
eggs with sperm in a laboratory. The doctor then implants the fertilized egg or eggs
into the uterus. One IVF cycle usually takes twenty days.The embryologist can use the
couple’s eggs and sperm or use eggs and sperms from a donor. The success of any IVF
procedure depends on two critical factors, viz. the age of the female and the cause of
Indications of IVF:
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is usually an infertility treatment when other less
invasive treatment options fail to give any result. IVF can be a primary option for
women aged more than 40 years. Your doctor may consider IVF as an option if you or your
partner has one of the following conditions:
Fallopian tube blockage or damage: Any damage or blockage of the fallopian tube may
act as a barrier for fertilization of egg or movement of an embryo into the uterus
Ovulation disorders: Problem with ovulation may cause fewer or no eggs available for
Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when the tissue lining of the uterus grows
outside the uterus. This condition may affect the functioning of the ovaries,
fallopian tubes, and uterus.
Uterine fibroids: Uterine fibroids are benign tumors commonly occur in women in
their 30s and 40s. The presence of fibroids in the uterus can prevent the proper
implantation of the fertilized egg.
History of tubal sterilization or tube removal: In tubal ligation, the surgeon cuts
or blocks the fallopian tubes to permanently prevent pregnancy. For women who want
to conceive after tubal ligation, IVF can be an option.
Sperm-related abnormalities: Low sperm concentration, poor sperm mobility,
abnormalities in sperm morphology can prevent proper fertilization of sperm and egg.
IVF can be a procedure of choice in such cases.
Unexplained infertility: Sometimes, the reason for infertility remains unknown. Your
doctor may then recommend IVF.
A genetic disorder: Sometimes, genetic disorders in parents can pass to their
children. If you have such a condition, the fertility doctor may recommend eggs or
sperm from a donor.
What are the potential risks of IVF?
An IVF can lead to multiple births if more than one embryo develops and gets implanted
into your uterus. Multiple fetuses usually carry a higher risk of premature and low
birth weight than pregnancy with a single fetus does.
Premature delivery and low birth weight
According to some research, IVF may increase the risk of preterm delivery or low birth
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS:
Your doctor may prescribe human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) hormone to induce
ovulation. This hormone may cause painful and swollen ovaries called ovarian
hyperstimulation syndrome. Some of the common symptoms of OHSS are
Women who conceive using IVF may have more chances of miscarriage than women who give
birth naturally. But we should also remember that chances of miscarriage increase with
Complications related to procedure:
The use of an aspirating needle to retrieve female eggs can cause complications like
Damage to the bowel
Damage to the bladder
Damage to the blood vessel
It happens when implantation of the fertilized egg occurs outside the uterus, causing
the termination of pregnancy
IVF not only puts a financial burden, but it is also physically and psychologically
draining. A detailed discussion with the counselors and family before and during the
procedure can help you sail out through this stressful journey.
What you can expect:
IVF involves five steps
One IVF cycle typically takes two to three weeks.
Ovulation induction (OI):
OI involves the use of synthetic hormones to stimulate the ovaries. The stimulated
hormones produce multiple eggs, rather than a single egg that typically develops during
the monthly cycle. Multiple eggs increase the chances of successful fertilization during
Your fertility doctor will do the egg retrieval procedure approximately 35-36 hours
before ovulation. During egg retrieval, the doctor will guide an ultrasound probe into
your vagina and identify follicles. The fertility expert then inserts a thin needle into
an ultrasound guide, reaches the vagina, then into the follicles, and retrieves the
In the IVF clinic, the doctor takes a semen sample from the male partner on the morning
of egg retrieval
Fertilization between eggs and sperms can happen in two ways: Conventional insemination:
It involves mixing and overnight incubation of sperm and eggs. Intracytoplasmic sperm
injection (ICSI): In ICSI, a fertility expert injects a single healthy sperm directly
into each mature egg. Your doctor may recommend ICSI when poor semen quality or sperm
number leads to failure of previous IVF cycles.
The embryo transfer procedure is the final step of the IVF cycle. The success of IVF
depends on the precise placement of the embryos in the middle of the endometrial cavity.
The doctor should complete the procedure with minimal trauma of the endometrium.
After the procedure
After the embryo transfer, you may feel some discomfort due to painful and swollen
ovaries. You can resume your daily activities as soon as you feel normal.
Your doctor will do a blood test for pregnancy, typically 12 to 14 days after the egg
retrieval process. If the result is positive, the doctor will refer you to an
obstetrician for further care. If you’re not pregnant, you’ll likely get your period
within 5 to 7 days after stopping medications.