What to expect from your IVF journey
The process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) involves fertilizing the sperm and the egg outside the human body to create a pregnancy. Today, IVF is one of the most preferred treatment options for couples suffering from infertility. Over the years, advancements in technology have ensured that this ‘miracle process’ makes having a baby a possibility even in complex cases of infertility.
If you are among those considering IVF but don’t know what it entails, here is what you can expect from your IVF journey.
Counseling and Basic Tests
When a patient comes to us with a complaint of infertility, the first step in the process is to evaluate where the problem lies. The patient could be suffering from primary infertility or secondary infertility and also whether it is male or female factor infertility. At the very start, you will have to undergo basic blood tests and ultrasound scans to see where the problem lies. A semen analysis is done for the male partner. If the patient is over 35 years, a detailed examination to check for ovarian reserves is very important to check for fertility levels. If the ovarian reserves are low or if the sperm count is insufficient, the patient has the option to go for donor egg or donor sperm.
On Day 2 or Day 3 of the menstrual cycle, ovarian stimulation is started with the help of gonadotrophins. A hysteroscopy can also be planned to rule out if there is any endometrial pathology like polp or submucous fibroid. Ovarian stimulation is done for a period of 10-12 days and is monitored using ultrasound. Once the eggs are 18-20 mm in size, you will be given a trigger injection.
After 36 hours of taking the trigger injection, the eggs are picked-up from the ovaries at your doctor’s clinic. The ultrasound guided procedure is carried out under anaesthesia. On the same day, a sperm sample is taken from your partner.
The sperm and eggs are left together in a petri dish in a controlled environment in the lab to fertilize and form an embryo. In some cases where the quality or quantity of sperms is a problem, or if less eggs are retrieved, your doctor may do Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) where a single sperm is injected into a mature egg under a high-power microscope for fertilization.
After five days of egg collection, the embryo ie. Blastocyst is transferred into your uterus. We transfer two embryos per sitting. The process is not painful and is done without anaesthesia where the doctor is guided by an ultrasound. If we have more embryos left, we can freeze them for future use.
About 14 days after completion of the process of embryo transfer, a beta HGC test is done to confirm pregnancy. During this 14-day period, you will be given medication to support the process and can carry on with normal activities. If the test report is positive, it marks the start of your pregnancy journey. And if it comes negative, the doctor will review the process and discuss the next steps.
Cost of IVF
IVF is perceived as an expensive process. But, the fact is that the cost entirely depends on the medical condition of the patient and the kind of treatment required to achieve a pregnancy. The success rate of IVF is much higher than other treatments making it a kind of a one stop solution for fertility problems. It is best to consult a doctor and ascertain the costs in your case before taking a final decision.
Dr. Sumeet, MBBS MS (OGS and GNY) is an Infertility Specialist at Vardaan Medical Centre, Jalandhar.