What is IVF In Vitro Fertilization
IVF is a process of fertilization where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro. 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, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology used for infertility treatment and gestational surrogacy. A fertilized egg may be implanted into a surrogate’s uterus, and the resulting child is genetically related to the surrogate, who is not the biological mother. Some countries have banned or otherwise regulate the availability of IVF treatment, giving rise to fertility tourism. Restrictions on availability of IVF include costs and age, in order for a woman to carry a healthy pregnancy to term.
The process of IVF typically involves the following steps:
- Ovarian hyperstimulation
- Retrieval of oocytes
- Embryo culture
- Embryo transfer
Ovarian hyperstimulation is the stimulation of the ovaries to increase egg production. It involves the use of fertility medications, such as gonadotropins, which stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Ovarian hyperstimulation is a necessary step in the IVF process, as it increases the chances of retrieving eggs, and hence, of achieving pregnancy.
Retrieval of oocytes
Oocytes are retrieved from the ovaries using a needle attached to a suction device. The needle is inserted into the ovary through the vagina, and the suction device is used to remove the eggs. The retrieved eggs are then placed in a dish with a nutrient solution, where they will be fertilised.
Fertilisation is the process by which sperm and egg combine to form a zygote. In IVF, this is typically done in a laboratory, by combining the eggs with sperm from the father (or a donor). The sperm and eggs are incubated overnight, and if fertilisation occurs, the zygotes are then transferred to a culture dish.
Embryo culture is the process of incubating the zygotes in a controlled environment, in order to allow them to develop into embryos. This is typically done in a specialised incubator, which is designed to mimic the conditions in the womb. The embryos are usually cultured for 3-5 days, at which point they are ready to be transferred to the uterus.
Embryo transfer is the process of placing the embryos into the uterus. This is typically done using a catheter, which is inserted through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. The embryos are then injected through the catheter, and left to implant in the lining of the uterus.
IVF is a complex and expensive process, but it can be