The in vitro fertilization process can be expensive, uncomfortable, and emotionally draining. Yet for those who fall into the IVF success rate category, the entire process is well worth the effort. For them, the possibility of their own bundle of joy makes all of the potential side effects and multiple attempts worth it. There’s no question IVF is a massive undertaking. Making sure you and your partner understand in vitro fertilization pros and cons is crucial.
In Vitro Fertilization | A Vital Piece of Information
In this article:
- What is IVF?
- Are You a Potential Candidate?
- Understanding the Success Rates
- How IVF Works
- Potential Side Effects
- IVF is Just One Option
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization or IVF occurs when a medical team extracts eggs from the mother. They mix the mother’s egg or eggs with the father’s sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized egg is then implanted in the mother’s uterus. For many couples, this represents the best odds of the mother conceiving and carrying the baby to term.
Sometimes fertility issues have several components involving both the mother and the father. Some IVF procedure variations include donor eggs or sperm. Some couples also use donated embryos.
Are You a Potential Candidate?
IVF is a big step. That’s why you need to figure out whether your fertility limitations are severe enough to warrant it. You and your partner will also need to consider factors like expenses and side effects.
One usually considers IVF after other methods don’t work. These include artificial insemination and corrective surgery. Your medical team will consider if these measures have been tried and/or you and your partner have a problem which can’t be diagnosed. Various genetic disorders can also interfere with fertility, as can endometriosis.
IVF is also effective for women with blocked or previously-removed fallopian tubes. Uterine fibroids, ovary conditions, and ovulation disorder may also make you a good candidate for IVF. If the father has a low sperm count, IVF increases the odds of the sperm fertilizing the egg.
Understanding the Success Rates
The average success rate of IVF is about 22 percent. That’s when “success” is defined as a live birth which is certainly how most parents define it. The average can be higher or lower depending on the mother’s age as well as the initial cause of infertility.
IVF treatment success rates for women under the age of 35 are about 41 to 43 percent. The success rate lowers as the woman’s age increases. For women over 40, the odds dip down to 13 to 18 percent.
One factor increasing IVF treatments success rates? Implanting a greater number of embryos particularly for older women. It’s important to decide upon the maximum number of embryos you want to be implanted. It’s because you’d also be increasing the odds of creating two or more babies. Let your doctor know what limitations you and your partner want to be placed on embryo numbers.
How IVF Works
In vitro fertilization is not always successful the first try, but no matter how many attempts are made, the basic multi-step process remains the same.
1. Egg Production
In vitro fertilization starts with the mother receiving hormone injections. This step stimulates egg production. IVF treatment results in multiple eggs. Having more than the usual single egg gives the best chance of success during the fertilization process.
Once eggs are produced, the mother receives medication to ripens the eggs and kick-starts ovulation. Doctors then use an ultrasound and blood tests to confirm the timing is right for retrieval. If these tests confirm the presence of several ripened eggs, the retrieval process begins.
The retrieval itself is considered minor surgery. A hollow needle pierces the pelvic cavity and retrieves the eggs. Doctors maneuver the needle by watching its progress via ultrasound.
2. Creating the Embryos
Prior to creating an embryo, the father or sperm donor will need to produce a sample. Once the eggs have been retrieved, the fertility team combines the eggs with the sperm. This insemination process happens in a laboratory dish. The eggs, if successfully made fertile, will show evidence of cell division.
A variation on insemination process involves injecting each egg with one sperm rather than mixing the eggs with a sperm sample. This step is more involved but can help in cases where normal fertilization might be an issue.
3. Implanting an Embryo
A few days after successful fertilization, the doctor will implant one or more embryos in the mother’s uterus. Doctors use a catheter to transfer the embryos into the uterus. It usually takes a few additional days to know if the embryos have successfully been implanted.
Potential Side Effects
For many women, IVF hormone injections can trigger intense emotional reactions. Combine the physiological response with any setbacks along the way. Expect an emotional rollercoaster. The fertility medications can also cause hot flashes, headaches, or abdominal pain and bloating.
After implantation, women might also experience cramping, bloating, and breast tenderness. They may also pass some clear or pinkish fluid. At their most severe, side effects can include pelvic pain, fever, and vaginal bleeding. You must call the doctor if those more serious problems arise.
IVF Is Just One Option
Even if you’ve already ruled out adoption or surrogacy, there are several alternatives to IVF. These include other fertility treatments like zygote intrafallopian transfer and gamete fallopian transfer. Whether you pursue them will depend in part on your underlying fertility issues. Maybe your OB-GYN or specialist isn’t as knowledgeable about current options as you’d like. If so, consider a second opinion.
Watch this video by Patreskovic for a thorough look at how IVF works:
If you’re considering IVF, make sure you are mentally and emotionally prepared for this massive undertaking. Seeking the right support and arming yourself with updated information are just some of the things you can do. Best of luck on your journey to motherhood!
Have you considered In Vitro Fertilization yourself? Sound off in the comments section below!