Infertility is a problem that is more common than you had imagined. It is estimated that 1 in 6 couples face this issue. The problem can arise due to several reasons such as hormonal imbalances, low sperm or egg count, blocked or absent fallopian tubes, male infertility, etc. that impede the ability of a couple to successfully conceive. However, in some cases the issue may not even be related to infertility. For instance, it could just be that a single mother wants to have a baby to start a family using a surrogate.
Medical science has proven to be a blessing for such people. In-vitro Fertilization (IVF), that was properly developed in the 1970s, has come to the assistance of those desiring to overcome the obstacles to becoming a parent naturally. IVF has since assisted in the conception and birth of tens of thousands of babies each year the world over. However, the IVF procedure is not always straightforward or easy for everyone. One needs to be very informed and extremely patient and committed to the process to see it through to completion. So, let us learn more about IVF to help you make the right decision as to whether it is the ideal procedure for you to undergo.
What is IVF and does it work
The IVF procedure involves removing eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them outside her body. The fertilization is done either by placing sperm on them or by injecting a single sperm into each egg using the technique of ‘intracytoplasmic sperm injection’ (ICSI). The fertilized egg is then replaced inside the womb.
The process can be a long one that necessitates the patient to take medications and visit the clinic for scans/check-ups for several weeks even before the eggs are collected. If IVF is successful, the embryos are monitored and grown in a lab, where they are graded for quality and transferred back to the recipient’s uterus. In total, the treatment can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to complete.
How can you prepare for the IVF procedure
Before considering the IVF treatments, the medical professional will explain the process to you. The first step requires the suppression of the woman’s natural menstrual cycle which is accomplished with daily hormone injections or hormonal birth control. This is followed by ovarian stimulation. Once her eggs have matured, they are retrieved in 34-36 hours after a human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) injection. The retrieved eggs are immediately fertilized and monitored for their quality. Finally, after a viable embryo is chosen it is transferred back to the woman’s uterus.
The success of the IVF procedure
The delicate nature, long process, and intricate details of the treatment means that the IVF procedure may not always work as planned. According to some estimates, the success rate of the procedure is between 30-60%, with the rate going up as technology advances. Moreover, the number of attempts that need to be made also varies from person to person, with the woman’s age being one of the key determinants.
In fact, for women over 40, the procedure becomes all the more complicated since older women usually have fewer eggs and respond poorly to ovarian stimulation. But, medical practitioners are also make advances here by selecting “the genetically balanced embryo” so as increase the success rate. Alternatively, the use of a donor egg is recommended.
On the flip side, fertility treatment can result in a greater likelihood of a multiple pregnancy. The occurrence of twins and triplets is quite common with IVF treatment: the probability of multiple births increases from 3% in cases of natural conception to 33% with IVF treatment.
Any medical procedure comes with its own set of complications and side effects and IVF is no different in this regard. For instance, side effects such as complications during the egg-retrieval procedure, ectopic pregnancy, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, premature delivery and even miscarriage may result. The miscarriage rates are also higher for women using frozen embryos. There are also the medication-induced side effects that have to be dealt with.
Another commonly overlooked risk arises from the emotional stress and anxiety that a patient feels from having to undergo the IVF procedure. This can make it all the more difficult to conceive since in a stressed condition the body releases hormones (cortisol) that can shut down your reproductive system.
Take an informed decision
Undertaking an IVF procedure will be one of the most important decisions you will ever take as a woman in your life. So, it is best to thoroughly consult with your doctor to determine whether or not it is a good option for you. Once the doctor has given the all clear to undergo the procedure, it is also important for you to keep an open mind and commit to the process with full faith and trust in yourself and the medical practitioners who are there to help you. While it is true that the IVF attempt may not be always be successful, it is also true that when it does succeed it will bless you with a new baby, or perhaps more than one. The reward is something that you will cherish for the rest of your life.