In-Vitro Fertilisation, commonly known as ‘IVF’, involves fertilisation outside the body. It is one of the most widely used fertility treatments and is often more successful than other methods. Patients who have unknown fertility issues and cannot conceive naturally or have blocked or damaged fallopian tubes often undergo this treatment to fall pregnant.
Why Do People Undergo IVF?
IVF helps couples conceive who are unable to naturally; common reasons for IVF treatment are:
- Women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- Unexplained fertility issues or have had unsuccessful treatments previously (IUI)
- Men that have low / zero sperm count or poor quality sperm
- Difficulty in ovulation
- Mature women who have smaller chances with less invasive treatments
- A genetic condition
If you are at risk of premature menopause, this procedure may not suit you and must be discussed with your clinician.
What Are The Benefits of IVF Fertility Treatment?
IVF treatment has brought joy and life to millions of families in the UK and worldwide. There are numerous potential benefits when it comes to IVF treatment:
- IVF has been used for a long time and is safe
- It helps patients who would have otherwise been unable to conceive
- It can be more successful than other forms of reproductive technology
- Option for single women or same-sex couples
- Can screen embryos for inherited genetic conditions where there is a family history or known carriers
What Are The Risks of IVF?
Although generally safe and effective, there are some risks to be considered when considering undertaking IVF treatment:
- Pregnancy complications
- High stimulation IVF can cause prematurity and low birth weight in babies.
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Multiple births lead to more complications
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
- Pain and bloating in the lower stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling faint
- Congenital disabilities
What to Expect From the IVF Procedure
This process outlines one cycle of IVF, and the precise detail may vary from clinic to clinic:
- Patients are given medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. This can be done by suppressing natural hormones before taking stimulating hormones, receiving daily injections or nasal spray. Scans and blood tests are used to determine if the natural cycle is fully suppressed and whether the ovaries are stimulated enough to produce eggs
- Eggs are collected using a needle that is passed into the vagina whilst under general anaesthetic or sedation; This usually takes around 30 mins
- In the case of a heterosexual couple undertaking IVF treatment, while the female’s eggs are being collected, the male will provide a sperm sample. If the sample has a low sperm count, other options such as a donor or intracytoplasmic sperm injection may be considered. If the sperm sample is viable, it is stored in the freezer for later fertilisation
- The eggs and the sperm will be mixed and placed in an incubator. The aim is for the sperm to fertilise some of the eggs to form an embryo. These are incubated for up to 6 days before being transferred into the womb
- A thin tube called a catheter is passed into the vagina by which the eggs can be transferred into the womb. The number of embryos transferred will be discussed with your clinician as it is dependent on several biological and anatomical factors
- You will need to wait around 2 weeks before taking a pregnancy test
How Much Does IVF Fertility Treatment Cost?
Privately, in the UK, IVF treatments cost between £3,000 – £5,000 per cycle and often more than one cycle is required.