IVF Treatment | Emma's Diary India

IVF explained


'In vitro fertilisation', commonly known as IVF, involves the fertilisation of an egg (or eggs) outside the body.

The treatment can be performed using your own eggs and your partner’s sperm, or using either donated sperm or donated eggs - or both.

Who can have IVF?

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in UK recommends IVF for:

  • Women aged between 23 and 39 years who have an identifiable cause of infertility such as an absence of a partner’s sperm, blocked fallopian tubes, or who have been infertile for more than two years.
  • Women aged between 40 and 42 years who have not previously had IVF treatment, and where there is no evidence of fertility problems due to a reduced number of eggs and have been infertile for more than two years.

What are the NICE recommendations?

NICE recommends that up to three cycles of IVF should be available on the NHS for women who are between 23 and 39 years of age and women aged between 40 and 42 years should be offered one cycle of IVF.

However, these are only recommendations and in England it’s the local CCG who decides whether to fund IVF treatment on the NHS. Other parts of the UK have different funding arrangements and different criteria for IVF treatment. For more details on funding go to hfea.gov.uk.

How much is private IVF treatment?

If you decide to pay for IVF you can have treatment at a private clinic. Costs vary, but one cycle of treatment can cost £5,000 or more.* There may also be additional charges for medicines, consultations and tests so make sure you know exactly what is included in the price you are quoted

What happens during IVF?

There are six main stages of IVF for women:

  1. Your natural monthly hormone cycle is suppressed with medication, which is given by daily injection or by nasal spray for around two weeks.
  2. Once the cycle has been suppressed you will be given a fertility hormone to increase the number of eggs you produce. This is given by daily injection for around 10 days.
  3. Between 34 and 38 hours before your eggs are due to be collected you will be given a further hormone injection to help your eggs mature.
  4. Your eggs will be collected during a minor medical procedure performed under sedation and you will be given a vaginal pessary or an injection to help prepare the lining of your womb for embryo transfer.
  5. The eggs will be mixed with sperm for a few days to allow them to be fertilised.
  6. One or two fertilised eggs (now called embryos) will be transferred back into your womb. You will then need to wait two weeks before having a pregnancy test to see if the treatment has worked.

At the time that your eggs are being collected your partner will be asked to produce a sperm sample. Normal sperm will then be separated out from any poor quality sperm ready to fertilise the eggs. In some cases the egg will be fertilised by an injection of an individual sperm into the egg. This is called intra cytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI.

If donated sperm is being used, it will be thawed before being prepared in the same way.

What are my chances of success?

A lot depends on your age and the cause of your infertility, but the younger you are the more likely you are to get pregnant. 

Eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding alcoholsmoking and caffeine during treatment will increase your chances of successful IVF.

What are the risks involved?

There are a number of potential problems that can occur as a result of IVF.

  • Side-effects from the medication such as hot flushes, headaches, feeling down and irritable.
  • Multiple births which increase the risk of complications for you and your babies.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) where too many eggs develop in the ovaries, which then become large and painful. Severe cases can be dangerous.
  • Ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants in the fallopian tube rather than the womb.

New research

A study that has recently been published showed that almost one third of women who don’t conceive through IVF become pregnant naturally. In the study, which was carried out by Imperial and Kings College London and Greenwich Trust, 403 British couples were surveyed over six years after starting fertility treatment. The findings revealed:

  • 27% of those who had conceived through the process went on to have a second baby naturally
  • 31% of the failed IVF attempts had a child naturally and in 87% of cases they conceived within 2 years of stopping treatment.

The researchers said the findings offer hope to thousands of couples who stop IVF because of the cost or because it is simply so heart rending.

* NHS Choices www.nhs.uk

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