In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is a method of infertility treatment whereby the sperms are mix with the eggs in the laboratory for fertilization and the resulting embryos are transferred back into the woman’s uterus (womb), where the embryo is expected to implant and further develop into a pregnancy. The treatment was originally for women with fallopian tube disorders but it is now used to treat infertility resulting from various causes.
Who may benefit from IVF?
Men, women or couples who have any of the following may benefit from IVF:
IVF treatment involves the following steps:
Controlling the natural cycle of the woman and preventing spontaneous ovulation of matured follicles using hormonal drugs this is known as downregulation or pituitary suppression
Stimulating the ovaries with hormonal drugs- follicle stimulating hormones- for growth of follicles and in turn producing more than one healthy and matured egg
Taking another drug to enhance the completion of the egg maturation process
These medications are taken daily until the time is right for egg collection. This stage of treatment is monitored using ultrasound scans through the vagina and when necessary, blood tests to test hormone levels in the blood
When the follicles are big enough and are thought to contain matured eggs, they are drained in the theatre under light anaesthesia. A special needle is passed through the vagina into the ovaries guided by ultrasound scan to drain fluid in the follicles into special glass tubes. The tubes containing the aspirated fluid are given to the Embryologist who will check the fluid for eggs. This procedure lasts for about 30 minutes and the woman should have been fasting for at least 6 hours before the procedure is performed.
These are medications, usually progesterone, given either as injection or vaginal pessary or gel to promote implantation of embryos. Progesterone are usually initiated after egg collection.
The Different Types of IVF Treatments
In conventional IVF, between 100,000 and 150,000 processed sperm are placed around each retrieved egg in a dish containing specialized nutrient fluid. They are allowed to incubate in a controlled environment. They are examined under the microscope for fertilization within 18 and 24 hours
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI):
This is a highly technical method of treatment requiring special equipment and training. This method increases the probability of fertilisation even with sperms extracted directly from the testes. In ICSI, one sperm is injected directly inside an egg under a special microscope
Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Selection (IMSI):
This is the process of injecting a morphologically selected sperm cell into the egg at very high magnification using a specialized inverted microscope. The resulting embryo(s) is transferred into the woman’s womb. The embryo is expected to implant and develop into pregnancy.
There are other supporting medications to improve the chance of achieving pregnancy; these include aspirin, multivitamins, oestrogen tablets or injection, and heparin