Looking to undergo IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) to get pregnant in 2024? This comprehensive IVF process guide is for you.
While pregnancy with IVF might seem exciting, it can be overwhelming at the same time. Having a good knowledge of the IVF procedure step-by-step helps couples prepare themselves mentally and also avoid any mistakes during treatment.
IVF is a complex medical procedure that goes through multiple stages and phases, each requiring different skills and experience for surgeons to complete full treatment. The first cycle of IVF lasts 3-4 weeks and has an average success rate of 60%–80% in healthy couples.
Who are the ideal couples for IVF treatment?
Couples aged 18 to 40 who have been trying to conceive for months or even years are ideal candidates for the IVF procedure. Both males and females can experience infertility for a variety of reasons. A few reasons include hormonal imbalances, structural abnormalities in reproductive organs, genetic factors, age-related issues, and certain medical conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis. Aside from health issues, age can have an impact on the outcome of in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Generally speaking, the window of opportunity for IVF is 35 years or under; however, if you see a skilled IVF specialist, you can have IVF at any age up to 40 with very slim chances of conception.
Step-by-step process of IVF for couples
Once you meet the requirements for IVF treatment, the following is a 7 step-by-step guide to the IVF process:
- Pretreatment assessment
- IVF injections for better eggs
- Egg retrieval process
- Sperm collection and analysis
- Embryo fertilisation and transfer
- Pregnancy tests and follow-ups
Step 1: Pretreatment assessment
Before commencing IVF, couples undergo a thorough pretreatment assessment. The IVF specialist analyses the couple’s medical history and asks for different lab tests, screenings, and evaluations. Key assessment components include –
- Preconception screening labs: These tests include blood tests, antibody screenings, and examinations for any sexually transmitted diseases. They offer a comprehensive picture of a couple’s health and are important for the upcoming newborn’s health.
- Uterine cavity evaluation test: This test is used to evaluate uterine cavity abnormalities by hysteroscopy in patients.
- Genetic carrier screening: The screening is performed to detect if any of the couple (male, female, or both) are carrying some type of genetic disorder.
This evaluation ensures that both partners meet the necessary criteria for the procedure, addressing any potential challenges.
Step 2: IVF injections for better eggs
The next step involves the administration of IVF injections to stimulate the ovaries for optimal egg production. In this stage, different medications are prescribed by a gynaecologist to let your ovaries produce multiple mature eggs at the same time. Gonadotropin injections, leuprolide acetate (“trigger shot”), GnRH agonists, and follicle-stimulating hormones are a few frequently used drugs that are prescribed by a qualified medical professional only. This crucial phase enhances the chances of successful fertilisation during the subsequent steps. Additionally, at this stage, frequent ultrasound and blood tests are done to track the progress, especially after 3-4 days of IVF cycle.
Step 3: Egg retrieval process
Once the eggs are mature, a minor surgical procedure is performed to retrieve them from the ovaries by embryologists. This minimally invasive step is pivotal in collecting viable eggs for the IVF process and lasts from 15 to 30 minutes. You may believe that the process of retrieving eggs is painful. Well, because of the anaesthesia, during surgery you don’t feel anything problematic; even after egg retrieval, you only experience mild cramps that are similar to menstrual cramps.
Step 4: Sperm collection and analysis
Simultaneously, sperm is collected from the male partner. A thorough analysis ensures the quality and quantity of sperm, contributing to the success of fertilisation. In 20% of cases, poor semen quality is the only reason for infertility; however, in 50% of cases, the condition can be treated. In cases of poor sperm quality, donor sperm is used for the next process with the consent of the couple. Some clinics did it even before the IVF process started during the initial assessment.
Step 5: Embryo fertilisation and transfer
Fertilisation occurs by combining the retrieved eggs and sperm, leading to the formation of embryos. These embryos are carefully monitored and cultured in a lab environment to promote optimal growth before the next stage. Embryo development can be slow sometimes, and it can take 6-7 days to reach the blastocyst stage of development.
The embryologist may call you after 2 to 4 days of this process to give an update and schedule the embryo transfer process. After that, depending on the date and time of transfer, the fertilised embryo is channelled back to the ovary of women.
Step 6: Cryopreservation
After the embryo transfer, the remaining embryos are then transferred for cryopreservation. The remaining embryos are preserved during this process by freezing them at extremely low temperatures. This step provides couples with options for additional attempts without repeating the entire IVF process. On average, after two IVF cycles, there is a success rate of 70%, and typically, the more IVF cycles are completed, the higher the chances of getting pregnant.
Step 7: Pregnancy tests and follow-ups
The final step involves conducting pregnancy tests to determine the success of the IVF procedure. Following the embryo transfer, couples are called to a clinic for a pregnancy test after 12 to 14 days, or two weeks. In the clinic, the mother must undergo a hormonal test to determine her hCG level. The test can be performed using either a blood test or a urine test; however, blood tests are 99% accurate. Additionally, urine tests can be accurate 2-3 days after blood tests. Furthermore, continuous follow-ups with healthcare professionals are necessary to ensure comprehensive support throughout the early stages of pregnancy.
In vitro fertilisation is a technique in which the embryo is fertilised in a lab environment and placed back in the ovary. The process of the IVF procedure takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks, with an average accuracy of 60% in the first cycle in India. IVF requires more consideration for mental health than physical health. The guide provides in-depth coverage of the most important IVF phases, but some stages and substages can be included in between. So, it is critical to consult with a top IVF specialist in the city and then plan the entire IVF procedure based on the doctor’s recommendations.
If you are looking for the best IVF centre in Punjab, Vardaan Medical Centre is the top fertility clinic in Amritsar that offers all infertility treatments such as IVF, IUI, ICSI, ultrasound, cryopreservation, donor eggs and sperm, and laparoscopy. To book an appointment, call +91 9814021991.