What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves monitoring a woman's ovulatory process, removing ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium in a laboratory. When a woman's natural cycle is monitored to collect a naturally selected ovum (egg) for fertilisation, it is known as natural cycle IVF. The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. The first successful birth of a "test tube baby", Louise Brown, occurred in 1978. Louise Brown was born as a result of natural cycle IVF. Robert G. Edwards, the physiologist who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010.
What is involved with in vitro fertilization?
There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process which include the following:
- Monitor and stimulate the development of healthy egg(s) in the ovaries.
- Collect the eggs.
- Secure the sperm.
- Transfer embryos into the uterus.
- Combine the eggs and sperm together in the laboratory and provide the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth.