You may have come across advertisements proclaiming the usefulness of IVF treatments for childless couples across multiple media. It is by far the most effective way for conception in couples who are unfertile and cannot have a baby under natural conditions. It is also referred to as test tube baby procedure. According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART),the chances of women in their 20s and mid 30s conceiving through IVF is highest.
Read on to find out more about what IVF exactly is, what conditions are conducive for couples to avail this treatment for conception along with its actual working, benefits and risks.
What is IVF ?
IVF is a golden opportunity for couples who aren't able to conceive, to get the elusive ray of happiness in their lives of parenthood. Parenthood is a pipe-dream for many couples worldwide. Infertility is a combined result of stress, unhealthy food habits and also an unhealthy lifestyle. However science comes to the rescue of such couples, as it enables such couples to conceive.
IVF is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) that fertilizes eggs under laboratory environment. The eggs are then planted in the woman's uterus. This is how she can conceive artificially.
In-vitro fertilization is an artificial conception method. It is done by couples if any of the following circumstances are applicable to them:
- Endometriosis- This is an ovarian disorder when uterine lining starts outgrowing the uterus. Not all women suffering from endometriosis have difficulty in conceiving. But there are a certain percent that do have affected fertility whilst having endometriosis.
- Cancer patients- If the female is to undergo cancer treatment for getting treated for tumors in her body,
- is a handy treatment that helps her freeze her eggs. Freezing of eggs can thus be useful to her for conception in future when she's ready for a baby.
- Ovarian failure- This disorder means the stopping of functioning of ovaries in women before menopause. Such women have difficulty in ovulating and thus getting pregnant.
- Ovulation disorders- ovulation disorders triggered because of stress and a wrong diet prevent women from conceiving. Thus the woman can then conceive through IVF.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- PCOS is characterized by production of more male hormones than necessary in a woman's body. Infertility is also one of the many symptoms of this disorder. Women suffering from this disorder are known to have irregular menstrual cycles. Such women can benefit from IVF as a conception mode.
Besides the above mentioned causes, there is also a possibility of unexplained fertility that negates chances of pregnancy in certain women.
How it works?
In-vitro fertilization is not a quick or instantaneous results showing procedure. It entails many different steps that work over a cycle of multiple weeks before the women shows signs of conception. Following listed are stages that IVF treatment comprises of:
- Ovarian Stimulation- This is the step prior to egg retrieval. And needs to be done a couple of weeks prior to retrieval time. Hormones are injected so as to make the woman produce more than one egg per month through the menstrual cycle. Vaginal ultrasound and blood tests are done for determining if the eggs are ready to be taken out.
- Egg retrieval- This stage requires removing eggs from ovaries through a suction device. This stage is also known as follicular aspiration.
- Sperm retrieval- This stage sees donation of sperm by the women's partner.
- Fertilization- Eggs and sperm are mixed and incubated. After this stage the doctor will tell you when the embryos would be ready for transfer and implant.
- Embryo transfer- Embryo transfer is done into the uterus using a thin tube. Generally 2-3 embryos are transferred in the uterus in this session.
IVF is like a god-sent for couples wanting children but not being able to do so through the natural scheme of things. Few benefits offered by this Assisted Reproductive Technologies are:
- Older women- Women who are on the wrong side of age due to career and professional advancement can avail of IVF for experiencing motherhood, even in their 40s.
- Fallopian tubes- Women suffering from blocked fallopian tubes or damaged tubes can also conceive through IVF.
- Same sex couples- Same sex couples cannot create a new being physically. Such people however can also experience the joy of parenting through IVF or surrogacy.
- Failure of other infertility treatments- IVF comes in when couples fail to conceive through other infertility treatments like medication and drugs. This is a sure-shot way for couples to produce a child.
- Timing of the child can be pre-decided- Through IVF couples can determine as to exactly when they want the child to come in.
- Genetic disorders- Couples undergoing IVF for conception indirectly ensure that the fetus is free of any genetic disorder. As, there is a testing called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosing (PGD) during IVF treatment.
IVF is a highly reliable mode of conception for couples looking for parenthood but unable to do so due to various reasons. However, risks behind the same also need to be taken into consideration before embarking on IVF. Few of them are as follows:
- Tissue injury- The transvaginal ultrasound may cause injury to surrounding healthy tissues during egg retrieval procedure.
- Ectopic pregnancy- There is a small risk of ectopic pregnancy occurring while embryo transfer happens. However that can be corrected using surgery.
- Multiple births- Multiple embryos are transferred in the uterus during embryo transfer stage for increasing likelihood of pregnancy. However this can result in multiple births.
- Costly Affair- Many couples have to undergo multiple cycles for conception which at the end is likely to burn a hole in their pockets.
In-vitro fertilization is thus a tried and tested method of conceiving a healthy child in couples who cannot conceive naturally. However it is extremely important to weigh the pros and cons of IVF before starting this treatment as it is a slightly expensive procedure.