Our precious boys...

Our precious boys...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

WHAT IS IN-VITRO FERTILIZATION (IVF)?

This information is from www.americanpregnancy.org

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside the womb, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment for infertility. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process (injecting super stimulation drugs), surgically removing eggs from the ovaries and fertilizing them in a lab with sperm. The fertilized embryo(s) are then transferred into a woman’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.

There are basically five steps in the IVF process.

1. Monitor and stimulate the development of healthy egg(s) in the ovaries.

Fertility medications are prescribed to control the timing of the egg ripening and to increase the chance of collecting multiple eggs during on the woman’s cycles. This is often referred to as ovulation induction. Multiple eggs are desired because some eggs will not develop or fertilize after retrieval. Egg development is monitored using ultrasound to examine the ovaries and urine or blood test samples to check hormone levels.

2. Collect the eggs. (EGG RETRIEVAL)

The eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure which uses ultrasound imaging to guild a hollow needle through the pelvic cavity. Sedation and local anesthesia are provided to remove any discomfort that one might experience. The eggs are removed from the ovaries using the hollow needle, which is called follicular aspiration. Some women may experience cramping on the day of retrieval, which usually subsides the following day; however, a feeling of fullness or pressure may last for several weeks following the procedure.

3. Secure the sperm.

Sperm, usually obtained by ejaculation is prepared for combining with the eggs.

4. Combine the eggs and sperm together in the laboratory and provide the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth.

In a process called insemination, the sperm and eggs are placed in incubators located in the laboratory which enables fertilization to occur. In some cases where fertilization is suspected to be low, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used. Through this procedure, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg in an attempt to achieve fertilization. The eggs are monitored to confirm that fertilization and cell division are taking place. Once this occurs, the fertilized eggs are considered embryos.

5. Transfer the embryos into the uterus. (EMBRYO TRANSFER)

The embryos are usually transferred into the women’s uterus anywhere from one to six days later, but most commonly it occurs between two to three days following egg retrieval. At this point, the fertilized egg has divided to become a two-to-four cell embryo. The transfer process involves a speculum which is inserted into the vagina to expose the cervix. A predetermined number of embryos are suspended in fluid and gently placed through a catheter into the womb. This process is often guided by ultrasound. The procedure is usually painless, but some women experience mild cramping.

A blood test and potentially an ultrasound will be used to determine if implantation and pregnancy has occurred.

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