You may be thinking about in vitro fertilization (IVF) if you’re having problems becoming pregnant . This is the process by which sperm and eggs are mixed outside to form embryos.
In vitro fertilization is one of the most used fertility treatments for many years. As an effective treatment for fertility, it is available for many people and is appropriate for patients with a wide range of reproductive disorders.
IVF is performed when sperm quality is considered ‘normal’. A treatment known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is identified, can be utilized as an alternative if there are issues with sperm quality, such as low motility or numbers. An embryologist injects it into the egg.
After successful fertilization, the embryos are given two to six days to develop and grow. This aids the embryologist in choosing the strongest embryo, which is subsequently returned to the woman’s uterus in the pursuit of a healthy birth. (1)
How is IVF done?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs. These eggs are then removed from the ovaries and fertilized in the laboratory with sperm or the donor sperm of your choice. Your embryos will grow in the lab and then be transferred to the uterus. Any remaining embryos can be frozen for future use. (2)
What are the risks of IVF?
Despite the fact that IVF is a safe treatment, there are a few risks to be aware of. Medication risks, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), surgical risks, cycle disruption, and multiple births are some of them.
- Procedure risks
Uncomfort, bleeding, infection or damage to the nearby intestine, bladder, or blood arteries during the oocyte pick up (OPU)are possible dangers of an egg retrieval procedure. Even though they are uncommon, infections can nevertheless necessitate surgery or antibiotics. Another concern is excessive sedation, which can create problems with the heartbeat or respiratory system in some people.
- Multiple pregnancies
To have a healthy baby is the aim of IVF. The danger of multiple pregnancies exists with IVF, though. When more than one embryo is transferred, there is a chance of multiple pregnancies. Miscarriage, early birth, or long-term health issues including cerebral palsy are among the risks associated with numerous pregnancies.
- Pregnancy risks
15% to 30% of IVF pregnancies result in miscarriages. The chance of early pregnancy loss (also known as miscarriage) with IVF is the same as the risk of conceiving naturally unless you have genetic testing done on your embryos.
This risk is highly correlated with the female age. About 2% of IVF pregnancies result in ectopic births, in which the embryo is implanted in the Fallopian tube. Compared to spontaneous pregnancies, IVF carries an increased risk of high blood pressure, early birth, cesarean delivery, and low birth weight babies.
Birth abnormalities are a slight possibility in every pregnancy. About 3% to 5% of all pregnancies are at risk overall. (3)
Who can be a candidate for IVF?
IVF is not always necessary. For instance, some ovulation issues can be resolved by medicine alone, so it’s critical to be aware of all your alternatives before moving forward. Couples who can be a candidate for IVF are listed below.
- Women whose fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged.
- Individuals with unexplained fertility issues or those who have tried other treatments but failed.
- Men with aberrant sperm shape or motility, or men with excessive sperm counts. If these difficulties are serious, another procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, might be required.
- Women who have had trouble ovulating and have tried alternative medications without success.
- Older women who have a lower success rate with minimally invasive procedures.
- Those who use surrogacy. (4)
Klonoff-Cohen, H. (2005). Female and male lifestyle habits and IVF: what is known and unknown. Human reproduction update, 11(2), 180-204.