What Is In Vitro Fertilization?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) that involves retrieving eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm. This fertilized egg, called the embryo, can be frozen for storage or transferred to a woman’s uterus.
There are various IVF options, depending on the situation:
- your eggs and your partner’s sperm
- your eggs and donor sperm
- donor eggs and your partner’s sperm
- donor eggs and donor sperm
- donated embryos
- your doctor can implant embryos in a surrogate who agrees to carry your baby for you.
IVF, though reliable, is not always successful. The live birth rate for women under age 35 undergoing IVF is 41 to 43 percent. This rate falls to 13 to 18 percent for women over the age of 40.
Some intending parents choose IVF if there`s a risk of passing a genetic disorder on to their offspring. A medical lab can test the embryos for genetic abnormalities, then a doctor will implant embryos without genetic defects.
How to Prepare for In Vitro Fertilization
Before beginning IVF, women will need to first undergo ovarian reserve testing. This testing involves taking a blood sample and testing it for the level of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), which will in turn give some information on the size and quality of the eggs.
The next step is to examine the uterus. This may involve doing an ultrasound, which uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of the uterus. In running this test, the doctor may need to insert a scope through the vagina and into the uterus. These tests reveal the health of the uterus and help the doctor determine the best way to implant the embryos.
These tests are not restricted to women. Remember that sperm is required. Men will need to provide their sperm samples for tests too. For sperm samples that are weak or damaged, there may be a need to carry out a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). During ICSI, a technician injects sperm directly into the egg.
People who opt for IVF consider a number of factors. Let’s discuss some of the questions you need to find answers to before opting for IVF:
- What are the financial, physical, and emotional stresses associated with IVF?
- What happens to unused embryos?
- How many embryos do you wish to transfer? Note that the more embryos transferred, the higher the risk of multiple pregnancies. Most doctors won’t transfer more than two embryos.
- Do you know that there is a possibility of having twins, triplets, or multiple pregnancies? Are you ready for it?
- Have you considered the legal and emotional issues associated with using donating eggs, sperm, and embryos or a surrogate?
The In Vitro Fertilization Procedure
There are mainly five steps involved in IVF. Let’s look into them briefly.
A woman normally produces one egg during each menstrual cycle. IVF, on the other hand, requires multiple eggs to increase the chances of developing a viable embryo. With fertility drugs, women can produce more eggs. There may also be a need to perform regular blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor the production of eggs.
Egg retrieval, also known as follicular aspiration, is a surgical procedure performed with anesthesia. The doctor will use an ultrasound wand to guide a needle through the vagina, into the ovary, and into an egg-containing follicle. The needle will suction eggs and fluid out of each follicle.
The male partner will provide a semen sample, then a technician will mix the sperm with the eggs in a petri dish. The doctor may need to use ICSI if the mix doesn’t produce embryos.
The doctor will monitor the fertilized eggs to ensure that they are dividing and developing properly. The doctor may also need to periodically check the genetic conditions of the embryos.
When the embryos are big enough, the doctor can go ahead to implant them. This would usually occur three to five days after fertilization. To implant the embryos, doctors insert a thin tube called a catheter into your vagina, past the cervix, and into the uterus. The doctor then releases the embryo into the uterus.
Complications Associated with In Vitro Fertilization
- multiple pregnancies, which increases the risk of low birth weight and premature birth
- ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
- bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowels or bladder
- ectopic pregnancy
Some Facts About Pregnancy
- The blood volume in the body during pregnancy increases by 40 to 50 percent to help with the extra oxygen needed to support a healthy pregnancy.
- During the first trimester, the uterus is about the size of an orange. By the third trimester, it expands to the size of a watermelon.
- Women usually start producing breast milk about 14 weeks into their pregnancy.
- At about four months into the pregnancy, a baby begins to urinate inside of its mother.
- The heart grows during pregnancy — It works harder and pumps more blood for that growing baby.
- Some pregnant women lactate in late pregnancy at the sound of someone else’s baby crying.
- Because of water weight and other extra fluid, the feet of pregnant women swell.
- A baby has all of their fingerprints by 9-12 weeks in the womb.
- Nine in ten women experience a change in skin tone during pregnancy.
- The voice can change during pregnancy because hormonal changes cause the vocal folds to swell. It will most likely return to normal after delivery or breastfeeding.
- By the third trimester, a developing baby in the womb can recognize their mother’s voice.
- About 1 in every 2,000 babies are born with teeth. These are loose natal teeth that doctors sometimes remove, as they can hurt the mother during breastfeeding.
- Pregnant women have a heightened sense of smell to enable them to steer clear of foods they shouldn’t eat because of their growing baby.
- Three out of four women develop a linea nigra during pregnancy. The linea nigra is a dark, vertical line that runs down the abdomen. It may or may not vanish after birth.
- Pregnant women have less oxygen in their blood, which is what makes them more forgetful.
- Humans are the only mammals who do not ingest their placenta after birth.
- Home births are also becoming more popular, however, the majority of women are delivering in a hospital or birth center.
- Babies can cry in the womb.
- There are more twins born in Benin than any other country, with about 29 twins born per 1,000 births.
- About 32 people out of every 1,000 is a twin. In the United States, the states with the highest percentages of twins are Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. New Mexico has the lowest.
- Opposite-sex twins constitute approximately one-third of twin births.
- One in eight couples in the United States has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
- Over seven million women in the United States receive infertility services in their lifetime.
- In 2012, over 61,000 babies were conceived in the United States with in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- At age 30, a couple’s monthly chance of conception is around 20 percent. By age 40, the chance is around 5 percent each month.