In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), is a medical treatment that fertilizes egg cells with sperm, in a Petri dish. Currently, it is the most successful treatment option for infertile couple. It has proved to be useful even in older women with low ovarian reserves as well as for couples where the man has low sperm count or low sperm motility. Though it is an extremely successful treatment, most infertile couples turn to it only after trying various other treatments in vain.
In many ways this also becomes their last resort for having a baby and most couples are willing to give it a shot when other treatments fail. However, with IVF awareness on the rise, we are now seeing a shift in this trend and some couples who have failed to get pregnant in their bedroom, directly opt for IVF instead of taking the circuitous route of trying different treatments. In effect, this is also a smarter option, as they don’t lose time and money experimenting with methods that are most likely to be fruitless.
The IVF process
- The woman begins her hormone therapy for superovulation. This helps in the production of a larger number of eggs
- The eggs are removed from her ovaries
- They are then combined with the sperm, in an IVF lab- this is where fertilization takes place
- Once these eggs get fertilized, the embryo that formed, is transferred to the woman’s uterus
- If it successfully implants here, the pregnancy is established
The intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) treatment is a variant of IVF. It is used to treat male infertility (that is caused by defective sperm which are unable to fertilize the egg). In this process, the sperm is directly injected into the egg cell with the use of a micromanipulator- this helps the sperm fertilize the egg. It is an effective means of fertilizing the eggs in a lab after the eggs have been retrieved from the woman’s ovaries. Typically, ICSI is used when:
- Couples don’t want to use donor sperms
- Previous IVF attempts have failed
- The male partner has low sperm count/motility
- When the woman has a low ovarian reserve
- If the number of mature eggs fertilized in the normal manner is low
- The number of eggs retrieved is very low. When ICSI is used in this case, it’s possible to fertilize a larger number of eggs in comparison to the regular IVF
- The woman has low quality eggs
Key elements of IVF
The 3 key elements required for successful In Vitro Fertilization are healthy sperm and eggs and a normal uterus. Over the past few years, there has been a marked improvement in IVF success rates. In good IVF clinics they can be as high as 46% per cycles. It’s important to find a reputed clinic with a high success rate and one that has an experienced and dedicated IVF team.
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