What is IVF?
In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory. After the fertilised egg (zygote) undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, it is implanted in the same or another woman’s uterus, in a procedure called embryo transfer.
There are four basic steps to the IVF process:
- Stimulation of the ovaries to increase egg production
- Retrieval of eggs from the ovaries
- Fertilisation of the eggs with sperm in the laboratory
- Embryo transfer into the uterus
The first step of the IVF process is to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This is done through the use of fertility medication, which is usually given in the form of daily injections. The eggs are then retrieved from the ovaries through a minor surgical procedure called follicle aspiration.
Once the eggs have been retrieved, they are fertilised with sperm in the laboratory. This is done by placing the eggs in a dish with the sperm for a period of time, allowing fertilisation to occur. The fertilised eggs, now embryos, are then placed in the uterus through a catheter.
The success rate of IVF depends on a number of factors, including the age of the woman, the cause of infertility, the number of embryos transferred, and the number of previous IVF cycles. The overall success rate of IVF is about 40%.