What is IVF and how is it done?29.9.2021 · 4 min reading
The first thing that probably comes to your mind when you think of IVF is a "baby from a test tube". However, due to rapidly growing infertility, this acronym is no longer the "big unknown". It is now a method that makes the dream of hundreds of couples a year come true. What are all the things IVF entails and how is it done?
What is IVF?
IVF (in vitro fertilisation) refers to the fertilisation of an egg with sperm outside a woman’s body that is done “in vitro” in the laboratory. The eggs and sperm are either collected directly from the couple that is trying to have a baby, but in cases where the couple fails to conceive using their own cells, donated eggs and/or donated sperm from suitable anonymous donors are used for the fertilisation.
In vitro fertilisation step by step
But before the “in vitro” process starts, there are a few other things you need to undergo first. First let’s take a look at the hardest step: How can you determine whether you are fertile, and after how long of trying for a baby should you contact a reproductive medicine clinic? Most couples start thinking something is wrong after a few attempts, but we consider a couple to be infertile after trying for at least one year; however, couples over the age of 35 should ask for help after just 6 months of trying.
And because age plays a major role in the success of IVF, we don’t recommend delaying treatment; you should embark on this journey that has 10 important stops as soon as possible:
- Initial interview at the clinic
- Assessment of reproductive ability of the couple (examination of both the man and woman)
- Selection of an appropriate method of infertility treatment
- Recommendation of laboratory methods to increase the chance of successful fertilisation
- Egg and sperm collection
- In vitro fertilisation
- Embryo cultivation
- Embryo transfer
- Positive pregnancy test
We describe each step in detail here.
IVF and IUI (insemination)
We should point out two important terms that are often confused with one another, resulting in unclarity: IVF is not the same thing as intrauterine insemination. While in IVF the egg and sperm for fertilisation are placed in a test tube and the embryos are subsequently cultured in a laboratory environment, insemination only facilitates the passage of the sperm into the uterus, where it is inserted through a thin catheter. This allows the sperm to avoid the vagina and cervix and reach the egg much sooner. Insemination is therefore the method of first choice when infertility is caused by poor quality sperm or irregular ovulation in women.
This simplest type of treatment is completely painless, it is done around the time of ovulation and it can either be performed during a woman’s natural cycle or with hormone support. If the man’s sperm cannot be used, couples very often welcome the possibility of sperm from donors.
Who can undergo in vitro fertilisation?
Treatment at assisted reproduction clinics can be provided under conditions that you should be familiar with: First of all, the law dictates a woman’s age on the day of the embryo transfer must not exceed 48 years + 364 days. Secondly, although the couple does not have to be married, you cannot do it without a partner – artificial insemination is considered a couple therapy with which the patient’s opposite sex partner must agree. Czech law therefore does not allow assisted reproduction for lesbian couples or single women.
Thirdly, you cannot choose the baby’s sex, four, the donation of eggs and sperm is strictly anonymous, and finally, insurance companies only pay for the treatment of patients up to the age of 39; the number of paid cycles depends on the number of transferred embryos (maximum of 4 treatment cycles).
The success of IVF depends on the patient’s age and laboratory methods
When choosing an assisted reproduction centre, the success of IVF treatment is the main criterion many couples use to decide. In addition to the woman’s age, which plays a key role in the success of IVF treatment, it also depends on the experience of the doctors, the technological equipment of laboratories and modern laboratory methods used by individual clinics, which increase the probability of pregnancy and delivery of a healthy child.
The most popular methods include ICSI, Microfluidic sperm sorting chips, Halosperm, Embryoscope and assisted hatching . The success of IVF is also greatly enhanced by repeated transfers of frozen embryos, which are obtained and frozen during the first cycle of IVF so that they can be used in the event of failure of the first transfer. Donor programmes also result in significantly higher success in clients with repeated failure of classic IVF, in which only eggs of young and healthy donors are used.
What are the risks of in vitro fertilisation?
If there is a medical field that has risen to the top in terms of treatment and modern methods in recent decades, it is reproductive medicine. Today, the risks associated with IVF are minimal – rare complications may arise as a result of hormone treatment, where hyperstimulation (OHSS) causes enlargement of the ovaries associated with pain in the lower abdomen, occasionally with accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. However, modern medicine can reduce these symptoms, and hyperstimulation eventually resolves on its own. Pregnancy after artificial insemination itself is no different from normal pregnancy, and you are not at higher risk than with natural conception. However, there is one difference we shouldn’t forget: