IVF Treatments

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Treatments are a complex series of procedures done to help with couples having infertility or conception issues. IVF is one of the most commonly used and successful treatments available to many people.

All About IVF Treatments: Steps, Side Effects, Risks And Cost

Overview

For millions of couples around the world, one of the many joys of life includes having the amazing opportunity to form a family and bring new life to the world. While many of these couples have been able to conceive children naturally, there are however significant numbers of families that have unfortunately experienced issues with a natural conception of a child.

For years upon years, infertility problems have let down families causing them emotional or physical difficulties. It was not until 1978, that with the birth of the first IVF baby, families who had experienced severe disappointment with natural conception, started to have a flicker of hope that maybe, they could just as well witness their pregnancy first-hand.

The Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) reports about 4 million births per year of which  61,740 of these babies were born in the U.S. as a result of IVF in 2012 in the U.S.

With technological advancements and decades of hard-working researchers, and thanks to Assisted reproductive technology (ART), including In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), it’s now possible for those families to have a chance of experiencing successful pregnancies and childbirths.

For more information, you can visit the Medgo Medical Tourism website, where we offer cost-effective IVF packages. You can also get free medical consultations from our specialists before deciding on anything.

In this article, we are going to discuss what steps take place during an IVF procedure, why it’s done, how it works, who are good candidates, along with risks, side effects and more.

How Does IVF Work?

IVF stands for in-vitro (“in glass”) fertilization where specialists extract the woman’s eggs, retrieve sperm sample, and then combine an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. After the eggs are fertilized – making embryos –  they are transferred to a uterus, hopefully, resulting in a successful pregnancy.

There are 5 main steps to IVF:

  1. Stimulation (superovulation)

Normally, the IVF process begins with the woman taking a birth control pill to prevent ovulation too early in the treatment cycle.

Later fertility drugs are used to stimulate ovulation and prepare a woman’s uterus for pregnancy.

During this step, the woman will have regular transvaginal ultrasounds to examine the ovaries and blood tests to check hormone levels.

Different types of fertility drugs are prescribed for women during the IVF process. They can be taken both orally or by injection. The patient’s age and test results are taken into consideration before specialists specify which exact drugs and dosages someone should take.

Some common drugs you may encounter during IVF are a mix of:

  • Gonadotropins: (injectable hormones)
  • Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG)
  • FSH drugs including Bravelle, Gonal-F, and Follistim
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogs (GnRH) including Ganirelix Acetate, Antagon (ganirelix), Lupron Depot (leuprolide acetate) and Lupron.
  • Egg Retrieval

Minor outpatient surgery is performed to extract the woman’s eggs. The patient will be given sedatives to not feel any pain or discomfort. The procedure is typically done in the doctor’s office.

Inserting a needle that is connected to a suction device, the specialist will then retrieve the eggs from the patient and repeat the same step for the other ovary as well.

In cases where women are not able to produce eggs for this step, donor eggs can be used instead.

After the procedure is over, there may be slight discomfort or cramping but in most cases, it will go away within a day.

  • Insemination And Fertilization

Insemination takes place when the most promising eggs that have been retrieved, are combined with the sperm sample that the partner has contributed. The mix of the sperm and eggs are then stored in a chamber where usually the sperms enter the egg within 4 hours.

Sometimes if the chances of the sperm entering the egg by itself are low, or if the specialist sees fit, they inject the sperm directly into the eggs for better results. This process is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

  • Embryo Culture

After fertilization, the egg starts to divide and become an embryo. The embryos are closely monitored by staff for approximately 5 days to ensure that each embryo has continuous division and is actively growing.

  • Embryo Transfer

The final step of the procedure. The embryologist inserts a thin tube called a catheter, through the cervix of the patient. The catheter contains the embryos. When these embryos implant themselves to the walls and the lining of the womb, pregnancy occurs.

This procedure takes place back in the specialist’s office while the patient is awake.

Multiple embryos are often placed through the womb to increase the chances of pregnancy, which means that more than one embryo can implant to the lining of the womb, resulting in twins, triplets or more babies.

The fertilized eggs that are not used, can be frozen for later use or donated.

The process of IVF treatment

The Result: How Do I Know I’m Pregnant After The IVF?

The only reliable IVF pregnancy test is the blood test done in your fertility clinic by your doctors.

About 7 days to two weeks after embryo transfer, your fertility specialist will test a sample of your blood to find out whether you’re pregnant.

  • If you’re pregnant, Congratulations! your doctor will most likely refer you to an ob/GYN or another pregnancy specialist for prenatal care.
  • If you’re not pregnant,  you will have to stop the fertility drugs. But don’t be discouraged. Talk with your physician to discuss and determine what the next step through your journey is, your doctor might suggest steps you can take to better your chances for fertility next time. For instance, if you have frozen eggs from the previous fertilization, you can use those.

Why Is IVF Done?

If couples have tried less-invasive treatment options before but none of these have resulted in pregnancy, the most common treatment advised combating infertility is IVF. It is also used as a procedure for women over 40 in aiding them in becoming pregnant.

So who can benefit from IVF?

This treatment is a good option for couples who have health and infertility problems, including but not limited to:

  • Endometriosis: Where the uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus, in most cases causing problems with the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the uterus.
  • Fallopian Tube Damage Or Blockage: This affects the way an egg is fertilized and makes it difficult for an embryo to travel to the uterus.
  • Uterine Fibroids: These are tiny benign tumors that can affect the way the embryos implant to the wall of the womb. They can be common in women in their 30s or 40s.
  • Ovulation Disorders: In-frequent ovulation can result in fewer eggs, therefore slimming the chances of pregnancy.
  • Impaired Sperm Function/ Production: poor mobility/immobility in a sperm or deficiency in its size or shape, can cause difficulties for fertilization.
  • Unexplained Infertility: This means no cause of infertility has been found despite evaluation for common causes.
  • Other Health Conditions:  Women who don’t have a functional uterus or are under serious health risks lest pregnancy occurs, might choose IVF selecting another person (surrogate) to carry the pregnancy to full term. In this case, the woman’s eggs are fertilized with sperm, but the resulting embryos are placed in the surrogate’s uterus.

Can IVF Pose A Risk To Either Mother Or The Baby?

IVF is generally very safe and most who have it experience no problems with their health or pregnancy. However, just like most medical or surgical procedures, in-vitro fertilization can also have some risks for mother and/or baby.

These may include:

  • Premature delivery
  • Multiple births
  • Miscarriage (“The rate of miscarriage for women who conceive using IVF with fresh embryos is similar to that of women who conceive naturally — about 15% to 25% — but the rate increases with maternal age” –Mayo Clinic )
  • Ectopic pregnancy

These are always stated as percussions to make sure that families take every aspect of these treatments into account before deciding on anything.

Needless to say, doctors and physicians are always there to make sure you and your loved ones are getting the best possible care there is and to limit your worries to a minimum. So don’t forget to consult with a specialist about any questions or doubts you may have.

What are IVF treatment side effects?

Some possible side effects may include:

  • bloating
  • cramping
  • breast tenderness
  • mood swings
  • headaches
  • bruising from shots
  • allergic reaction to medicines
  • bleeding
  • infection

According to Planned Parenthood, IVF can also be difficult emotionally, both for the person having the procedures and for their partner and/or family.

Waiting and patience play a huge role in IVF treatments. Whether it’s waiting to take a pregnancy test confirming the success, or patience in all the tests, protocols, and egg retrieval stages, stress and anxiety can become too much too fast on parents.

Research has shown that in order of perceived stress for patients, waiting to hear the outcome of the embryo transfer is the most stressful, followed by waiting to hear whether fertilization has occurred, and then the egg retrieval stage.

At the end of the day, the most important factor is that healthy parents, result in healthy babies. So while it’s difficult to keep calm during this tedious waiting period, you should trust the process and try and stay as relaxed as possible, so that there are fewer chances of any complications occurring.

It is always encouraged to talk with an expert in the field such as therapists or counselors on any difficulties you may be experiencing.

Online or in-person support groups with people who have gone through the same fertility struggles as you have, can also be extremely beneficial. Many families find comfort and peace in knowing they’re not the only people facing these hardships and feeling overwhelmed or discouraged.

How Much Does The Average IVF Treatment Cost?

IVF tends to be pretty expensive. Depending on which country you live in, or which clinic you would like to have your treatments performed at, you may be covered by your insurance. IVF procedures can cost anywhere between 7,000 to 15,000 USD.

However, we have made it so much easier and cost-effective to get the high-quality care and treatment you deserve. From pre-op services to post-op follow-ups, we are there with you, guiding you through this remarkable and memorable journey of bringing a new life into the world.

Summary

Whether you are just researching, at the early stages of decision making, or even doing a last-minute check up on your knowledge before you undergo the treatment; the most crucial aspect of it all is to communicate with your partner through all the stages and unexpected situations.  

It is normal to feel overwhelmed, it is normal to feel confused and misunderstood, but in the end, what matters most is the decision you make in expanding your family, which in the end, results in a beautiful and healthy baby coming into the world.

Stay safe, Stay healthy!

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