Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) has helped millions of people have a successful pregnancy. IVF is one of the most popular and successful types of ART treatment. IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is one of the most successful infertility treatments. It has helped millions of people to have babies and has brought hope to couples suffering from infertility. It is a highly specialized treatment, with multiple steps requiring the expertise of multiple healthcare professionals and staff. Additionally, some treatments can be added to the IVF cycle to maximize the chances of success. Different couples have different IVF success rates, as it is dependant upon the ovarian reserve, egg quality, sperm quality, age, and general health.
In this blog post, we will explain the IVF process step-wise, so that you have a clear idea of what your IVF journey would require.
Steps of IVF Treatment Process
An IVF Treatment process requires multiple steps. These are –
- Evaluation & Assessment
- Ovarian Stimulation
- Egg Retrieval
- Embryo Transfer
These steps form the basics of the IVF cycle. These steps require extensive monitoring and following the doctor’s instructions during the IVF treatment.
In addition to these steps, some treatments such as ICSI (Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection), Assisted Hatching, PRP Treatment, TESA (Testicular Sperm Aspiration), MESE (Microsurgical Epididymal Sperm Extraction), and using donor eggs may be required in some cases. These procedures are not mandatory but may improve the success rates in some cases. Let us discuss the IVF procedure step by step.
Evaluation & Assessment
The doctor consults the couple, takes a medical history and family history, and does pre-cycle testing, sperm analysis, thyroid function testing, and ovarian reserve testing. An evaluation of the uterus and fallopian tubes (tubes connecting the uterus to the ovaries) is also done in the female, to ensure that these reproductive organs do not have any issues that may require surgery. This step may include blood tests & imaging so that your doctor can chart out the plan that is customized for your needs. This is important to ensure that your doctor can provide you with treatment as per your specific requirements, as infertility treatments cannot have a one-size-fits-all approach. The couple is counseled and told about what the treatment would require – including physical, emotional & financial preparations. After this, the tentative treatment plan is explained so that people can block their calendars for appointments with the infertility expert.
Ovarian Stimulation is a very important step of the IVF cycle. Usually, a female’s ovaries only mature and release 1 egg per cycle, but with Ovarian stimulation, the ovaries are stimulated to grow multiple eggs which provides the doctor and embryologist with more healthy eggs to choose from. This ensures that eggs with maximum chances of success are chosen.
For Ovarian Stimulation, the woman is given fertility medications through injections. These injections have to be taken for 8-14 days, as per the protocol decided by your doctor. It is important to stick to the IVF Injections protocol as prescribed, to avoid any side effects and increase the chances of success. These injections are usually self-administered, but if you are scared of doing it yourself, you can ask your doctor if a nurse can administer these IVF shots instead. The kind of medication, the technique of injection (intramuscular vs subcutaneous), and the psychological impact of needles on the patient are important factors that determine the patient’s experience with IVF shots. These medications are very important for treatment, and your doctor can help you feel more at ease with administering these injections. These IVF injections are not usually very painful unless you are very scared of needles. We have covered this in our blog post.
This step requires monitoring via hormonal testing and transvaginal ultrasounds. Once the doctor determines the eggs are ready for extraction, you’ll receive a trigger shot of injection HCG that gives final maturation of the egg and make it suitable for fertiliztion.
The mature eggs need to be extracted to be fertilized in a lab. Egg retrieval is a surgical method to extract eggs from the ovaries. This is an ultrasound-guided procedure, and the patient is sedated. It requires the expertise of your fertility doctor, anaesthesiologist, and other medical staff to ensure the safety of the patient and the success of this step.
A needle is used to gently suction the follicular fluid and egg, and the eggs are put in a test tube which is then handed over to the embryologist for further treatment.
The patient may experience mild cramping, fullness, or pressure after this treatment due to ovaries expanding during ovarian stimulation. People describe the pain to be similar to period cramps. If you feel discomfort, discuss it with your doctor to understand how to manage it effectively.
The embryologist analyzes the eggs and chooses the eggs which are likely to produce successful results. The maturity and quality of the eggs are assessed. The mature eggs are transferred to a special culture medium which is placed in an incubator and fertilized with the sperm.
The sperm sample is allowed to fertilize the egg through conventional insemination. This involves placing the egg and the sperm in a culture medium in a petri dish and incubating them together in the lab, which allows the sperm to enter the egg.
If the sperm has poor quality, motility, or concentration, a process known as “Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection” may be used, in which the sperm is injected into the egg to improve the chances of fertilization.
The eggs are allowed to fertilize and observed to see how many of the eggs are developed to form embryos.
The fertilized eggs develop to form embryos. These embryos are allowed to grow to a suitable stage and are monitored by the embryologist. The embryos are checked, graded, and chosen for transfer by expert embryologists. The healthiest embryo is chosen for embryo transfer. The doctor chooses the embryo with the maximum chances of success, and transferring multiple embryos is avoided to reduce the risk of complications for the babies and the mother.
The embryo is transferred into the uterus using a thin, soft, flexible catheter. An abdominal ultrasound monitors the placement of the embryo in the uterus. The favourable result is for the embryo to hatch and implant in the uterine lining in 1-2 days after embryo transfer. If the couple wants, they can also freeze other healthy embryos produced by fertilization for future IVF cycles or family planning.
After the embryo transfer, the couple needs to wait for about 12 days to do a blood pregnancy test which would confirm a pregnancy.
IVF cost would depend upon numerous factors, and discussing expected costs with your infertility doctor is essential to understand the financial aspect of IVF treatment.
IVF With Donor Egg Process Step By Step
A doctor may recommend donor eggs in some cases. This would involve registration and consultation of the egg donor, meeting the team which facilitates egg donation, counseling, genetic testing, ovarian stimulation for the donor, retrieval of mature eggs, fertilization with sperm, and embryo transfer.
This step would require you to have a conversation with your doctor about what you need to be aware of legally and how much the cost of IVF treatment can change due to using donor eggs.
The Role of Infertility Doctors and IVF Clinics in IVF Success
Infertility doctors and Clinics have a major role to play in a successful IVF Treatment.
The education, expertise, and exposure of infertility doctors are very important for the success of IVF treatments. This is because a doctor who has done fellowships, training, and multiple IVF treatments would know through experience what types of protocols, additional treatments, and interventions would increase the success of IVF Treatments. In addition to this, the expertise of embryologists is also crucial as the correct selection of embryos is necessary for IVF success. Apart from educational qualifications and expertise, the ethics, values, and honesty of IVF doctors and clinics are also important. A doctor who answers all your infertility treatment-related questions would help you feel more comfortable and empowered about going ahead with the treatment.
Choosing the best IVF clinic is important as state-of-the-art labs, advanced technology, and the latest techniques used by them help improve the IVF success rate. IVF treatment requires specialized equipment, and using advanced techniques ensures that the success of the IVF cycle is maximized. A good IVF clinic would also ensure that your expectations are realistic and you know what to expect from IVF treatment. This would ensure that you know the number of IVF cycles recommended for you and that you can manage your physical health, mental health, and finances.
Grace Fertility is the best IVF clinic in Gurgaon and Jammu which is known for offering customized treatment as per the requirements. Dr. Reubina, the founder of Grace Fertility ensures that every person needing Infertility Treatment finds affordable, accessible, and empowering care. The staff has years of expertise and offers state-of-the-art labs and advanced technology. The costs, treatment procedure, and expectations are conveyed to the patients clearly so that the patient can prepare physically, emotionally, and financially for the treatment. This makes Grace Fertility one of the most trusted IVF and IUI clinics.
To start your parenthood journey, consult a Grace Fertility expert today.