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IVF (In Vitro Fertilization): A Boon for couples suffering from Infertility
Posted On: February 2, 2018
There comes a point in the life of every married couple where they decide to expand their family and welcome a new member. Having a baby is surely a delight and a feeling which can’t be expressed in words, it’s truly a blessing.
However, many of the couples fail to enjoy this bliss due to certain medical factors and some unknown reasons.
In the past, there was no solution for the infertile couples who yearned for a child. But thanks to the advancement in medical science and technology, today there are various options that can help them fulfill this desire.
One such popular method is the IVF, which is described as a boon for infertility. IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization and is one of the types of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
It is a medical process being practiced in every corner of the globe that has helped many childless couples to have children.
A popular technique for treating infertility today, IVF was a mystery when it was first introduced to the world. Back then, babies produced by the means of IVF were known as "test-tube babies". And the first ‘test tube baby’ was Louise Brown, born in England in the year 1978. Since then, IVF has undergone various modifications that have contributed in making the process more advanced and comfortable.
IVF is very different from the conventional means of artificial insemination wherein the sperm is placed in the uterus and conception takes place normally. IVF process combines the eggs and sperm outside in a laboratory to form an embryo or embryos. Once the embryo is ready, it is placed in the uterus. IVF is often the last option for couples trying to conceive naturally for a long time, without any success.
Infertility Causes that IVF Can Treat
Infertility can occur in either of the couple and in some cases, the problem may arise from both. There are various reasons that contribute to infertility which can be treated with IVF. Some of the infertility reasons are:
- Low sperm counts
- Ovulation problem
- Antibody problems which harm sperm or eggs
- Issues with the uterus or fallopian tubes
- Sperm’s inability to penetrate or sustain in the cervical mucus
- An unidentified fertility problem
As stated above, IVF is not the first option for treating infertility. Fertility drugs, artificial insemination and surgery are the options considered before IVF. If these methods don’t work or the infertility is because of tubal blockage then IVF will be recommended.
IVF is recommended in cases such as:
Blockage or damage to the fallopian tube: If your fallopian tube has been damaged or there is a blockage, it will make it difficult for the egg to fertilize or for the embryo to travel to your uterus.
Ovulation disorders: If you ovulate very less or only a few eggs are available for the fertilization, IVF would be suggested.
Premature ovarian failure: In cases where the ovary loses its function before the age of 40, normal amount of estrogens hormone will not be formed or the ovary will not have enough eggs to release regularly.
Uterine fibroids: These are benign tumors in the uterus wall and are common in women falling in age groups; 30s and 40s. Fibroids can affect the process of implantation of the fertilized egg.
Previous tubal sterilization or removal: If you have undergone a tubal ligation, which is a type of sterilization wherein the fallopian tubes are cut or blocked so as to prevent pregnancy permanently, and you desire to conceive, IVF will be the only alternative to tubal ligation reversal.
Impaired sperm production: In many cases of infertility, sperms also have a role to play. If the sperm count is below average, the sperm mobility is weak or there is any type of abnormality in the shape and size of sperm, it will be difficult to fertilize the egg. In case of semen abnormalities, your partner will have to consult a specialist to find out if the problem is due to some treatable disorder or it is because of some underlying health concerns.
A genetic disorder: If you or your spouse is at a risk of passing on any type of genetic disorder to the child, you will have to undergo preimplantation genetic diagnosis. It is a process that involves IVF. Once the eggs are harvested and fertilized, they get screened for some of the genetic problems. Embryos free of any genetic problem will be transferred to the uterus.
Fertility preservation for cancer or any other health condition: If you have to start a cancer treatment like chemotherapy or radiation which can harm your fertility, IVF can help you with fertility preservation. Prior to starting the treatment for cancer, you can get the eggs harvested from your ovaries and store them in the frozen state for later use. The eggs can be kept frozen without fertilization or can be fertilized and frozen as embryos for future use.
Other than the above-mentioned health conditions that affect your fertility, IVF can even be an option for women who lack a functional uterus or in the cases where pregnancy can be a serious health risk. Such women can choose another woman to carry the pregnancy (gestational carrier). In such cases, the woman's eggs will be fertilized with sperm, but the embryos so developed will be placed in the gestational carrier's uterus.
IVF Process at A Glance
IVF involves certain processes which are followed step by step. Let us give you a brief of these steps as involved in the IVF treatment cycle; meanwhile, you can understand the process cycle with the image as given below.
Ovarian stimulation: You are prescribed a course of drugs that can stimulate your ovaries to produce 12 to 15 mature eggs. To see if the ovarian stimulation is taking place as required, an ultrasound and blood tests are done. You are given a hormone injection two days prior to eggs collection, this injection helps in triggering maturation of eggs.
Egg collection: A mild general anesthesia is given to you that helps your doctor in collecting the eggs with the help of an ultrasound-guided process.
Sperm production: Your partner is asked to give sperm sample on the day your eggs are collected.
Fertilization: The sperm and eggs are put together in the lab by the embryologist and if everything goes fine, the eggs fertilize and the embryo development starts.
Embryo transfer: Two to five days post your egg collection, the doctor places one or two embryos in the uterus.
Embryo freezing: If there are additional embryos which can be used later, they will be frozen and stored for future transfers.
Pregnancy test: Around two weeks of embryo transfer, a blood test will be done to know if the treatment has worked. If the test result is positive then you will have the first pregnancy scan two weeks later. In case, the result is negative then you will have to speak to the doctor and decide if the treatment should be repeated again.
Risks Involved With IVF Process
IVF is a step by step process where each step has its own share of risks. Certain risks as associated with the IVF process include:
Multiple births: An IVF process is known to increase your risk of having multiple births. This happens if more than one embryo has been implanted in your uterus. A pregnancy which has multiple fetuses stands at a higher risk of early labor along with low birth weight as compared to pregnancy with a single fetus.
Premature delivery and low birth weight: This is in connection with multiple births because it has higher chances of early birth and low birth weight.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: Using injectable fertility drugs like Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG), to induce ovulation is known to cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome wherein the ovaries become swollen and painful. Signs and symptoms of this condition will usually last for a week and would include mild abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, vomiting and diarrhea. And when you become pregnant, these symptoms would last for several weeks. In some rare cases, a more severe type of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome can develop which results in rapid weight gain and breathe shortness.
Miscarriage: The rate of miscarriage tends to be almost same for women who conceive naturally or through IVF. However, the major impact comes with maternal age. Higher the age, higher are the chances of miscarriage. Using frozen embryos during IVF is also known to increase the miscarriage risk.
Complications in the egg-retrieval process: Using the aspirating needle to retrieve eggs is likely to cause infection, bleeding, or damage to your bowel, bladder or a blood vessel.
Ectopic pregnancy: This becomes a risk in about 2 to 5 percent of women opting for IVF. An ectopic pregnancy is characterized by implantation of the fertilized egg outside the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube. The fertilized egg won’t sustain outside the uterus and apparently, the pregnancy will get terminated naturally.
Birth defects: Maternal age is the major risk factor in the cases of birth defects, irrespective of the fact how the child has been conceived. However, this is still being researched as some experts believe that IVF doesn’t really increase the risk of birth defects.
Ovarian cancer: Some studies done in the past hint at a link between some medication types, which are used for stimulating egg growth, with the development of a particular ovarian cancer type. Studies are still going on to know more about this supposed link.
Stress: IVF can be a physically as well as emotionally draining process which often subjects you to stress. Higher stress levels can have an adverse impact on your overall health condition. This is why, it is important that you get good support from friends, family and counselors.
Factors that Affect Success of IVF
When you opt for IVF as the method to have a child of your own, you should be aware of certain factors that can impact the success of IVF. Though this process has advanced technologically, it doesn’t guarantee the success because that is associated with other factors too.
Your chances of delivering a healthy baby with IVF will depend on various factors, some of which include:
Maternal age: Your age plays a major role here. In younger females, the success of IVF is higher because their bodies support the process. The success rate slows down when the age bracket is above 40. In such cases, the females will have to consider making use of donor eggs to increase the success rate.
Embryo status: Embryos that have developed more tend to have a higher rate of pregnancy as compared to the less developed embryos. It is also to be noticed that all embryos don’t get to sustain so you will have to speak to your doctor if such a situation arises in your case.
Reproductive history: Your chances of healthy pregnancy will increase if you’ve given birth previously. Success rates stand lower for women who've used IVF multiple times in the past but failed in all attempts.
Cause of infertility: The cause of your infertility can also affect the success rate of IVF. If you have a usual supply of eggs then you will have higher chances of getting pregnant with IVF. The chance becomes relatively low in case of severe endometriosis and cases of unexplained infertility.
Lifestyle factors: Your lifestyle will also have an impact on your IVF success rate. If you smoke, you will have fewer eggs retrieved during the process of IVF as compared to women who don’t smoke. This can often increase the risk of miscarriage. Smoking lowers your chance of success with IVF nearly by 50 percent. Another factor that can impact the success rate of your IVF process includes obesity. Being overweight not only is a threat to your overall health but it can even affect your chances of delivering a healthy baby through IVF. You should make healthy changes to your lifestyle and stop the use of excess caffeine, recreational drugs, alcohol and certain medication types.
Precautions to be taken After IVF Process
You can avail IVF from the most renowned and experienced IVF Centres, but along with the expertise of the doctors and medical experts in charge of the process, you’ll also have to do your bit to make it a success.
If you have completed the IVF process then you must ensure to stay away from certain activity types that can hamper your body. You should be careful to not impact the embryo negatively unless the implantation is completed successfully.
Proper sleep: At this stage, your body requires plenty of rest. You should make sure that you get enough duration of sleep at night. Along with the duration, the quality of sleep also matters a lot. You need to have a sound and restful sleep. Don’t stay awake till late night, try to sleep early.
Healthy diet: Eat a healthy and balanced diet which includes fresh fruits and vegetables both during and after the IVF treatment period. Stay away from drinking alcohol, caffeinated beverages and cold drinks. Processed foods, deep-fried foods and junk foods are to be prohibited. Abstain from eating restaurant or street food and eat more of home cooked food.
Workouts and exercise: You will be advised to avoid any sort of workouts right after the IVF procedure. Strenuous workouts involving weight lifting or aerobics should be avoided completely. If you have been doing yoga regularly, you can continue doing some of the light poses which don’t have an impact on your stomach area. However, if you were not doing it before IVF, don’t start it after the process.
Also, make sure that you stay away from people who smoke as passive smoke can be very harmful. As far as possible, try and be in a fresh environment. Inhale clean and fresh air and stay away from pollution, which is likely to increase your chance of miscarriage.
During the process, you will encounter some side effects induced because of IVF process and certain medications that are given for fertility. Some of these side effects are:
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Weight gain
- Mild bloating
- Mild cramping
You should consider reaching out to immediate medical help if your symptoms include any of the following:
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Blood in the urine
- Pelvic pain
- High fever
Cost of IVF
In the past, IVF process used to be extremely costly because it was a rare treat and hence was not affordable for all. However, thanks to the advancement in medical technology, IVF process has become quite popular and healthcare providers across the globe offer this process.
The cost of the treatment often depends on the number of cycles you undergo, your medical condition, the city you live in and the IVF center you approach.
To know the precise cost, your healthcare provider will conduct various tests to determine the tentative number of cycles you may need and would even consider your medical condition. You should make it a point to speak to your doctor and understand the process required in your case.
Success Rates for IVF
The success rate of IVF depends on various factors as discussed above. If you follow the suggested aftercare procedure, your chances of successful pregnancy will stand higher. Moreover, other than the lifestyle changes and the diet changes you will make, you should also take into count the expertise of your IVF specialist.
It’s a complex treatment process and needs thorough experience and knowledge. If you have made up your mind to undergo IVF, the first thing to do is searching for the right IVF hospital. Invest some time in doing the research for the best IVF hospital online and seek feedback from your friends and relatives also.
If you are looking for any assistance regarding IVF, you can speak to one of our experts at Shalby Hospitals. We offer infertility treatment carried out by a highly skilled team of infertility specialist, at the affordable cost. Our trained IVF specialists will help plan the ideal treatment option for you, taking into consideration your comfort and convenience.
For more details, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org