What is IVF?
IVF is the original 'test-tube' baby technique. It was developed more than 30 years ago for the treatment of women with damaged Fallopian tubes, and this remains an important reason for treatment today.
How does IVF work?
All IVF treatments begin with a course of hormone therapy to stimulate the development of several follicles in the ovary. These are collected as eggs, which are then fertilised in a test-tube ('in vitro') to create several embryos. After between two and five days in an incubator, one or two of these embryos are transferred through the vagina to the uterus, where implantation occurs and pregnancy begins. However, in IVF as in natural conception, not every embryo implants to become a pregnancy, which is why surplus embryos are frozen - so that a subsequent transfer might be tried if the first one fails. Freezing is now an essential part of every clinic's IVF programme.
Single Embryo Transfer
Because the transfer of two or more embryos is associated with multiple pregnancy, there has been a determined effort in recent years to cut this multiple rate by transferring just one embryo and freezing the remainder. At the LWC we encourage single embryo transfer in patients with a good chance of success.
As with other type of fertility treatment, success rates in IVF decline once patients reach the age of 35 or so. Before that, IVF pregnancy rates at the LWC are around 50% per cycle.
After the Procedure
After embryo transfer, the woman may be told to rest for the remainder of the day. Complete bed rest is not necessary, unless there is an increased risk of OHSS. Most women return to normal activities the next day.
Women who undergo IVF must take daily shots or pills of the hormone progesterone for 8 - 10 weeks after the embryo transfer. Progesterone is a hormone produced naturally by the ovaries that helps thicken the lining of the womb (uterus). This makes it easier for the embryo to implant. Too little progesterone during the early weeks of pregnancy may lead to miscarriage.
About 12 -14 days after the embryo transfer, the woman will return to the clinic so that a pregnancy test can be done.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you had IVF and have:
- A fever over 100.5 F (38 C)
- Pelvic pain
- Heavy bleeding from the vagina
- Blood in the urine
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