IVF treatment helps couples who have difficulty conceiving, as well as single women and same-sex couples who want to start a family.
Eggs and sperm are combined and placed in an incubator in a laboratory, to fertilise. After two-to-five days in the incubator, one or two of the resulting embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus, and hopefully they will then implant and develop as they would in a normal pregnancy.
IVF is particularly applicable to women whose fallopian tubes are absent or damaged. It’s also appropriate for patients experiencing endometriosis and unexplained infertility.
In conventional IVF at least 100,000 sperm must be placed with each egg to have a realistic chance of achieving fertilisation.
ICSI treatment involves the injection of a single sperm directly into each egg. The treatment leading up to and after ICSI is identical to the conventional IVF cycle.
As only a small number of sperm are required for ICSI, this treatment is appropriate for couples where the man has low numbers of normal, motile sperm and would be unsuitable for treatment with IVF unless donor sperm is used. In addition, because the sperm does not have to penetrate the egg membrane itself, it is also suitable for couples who have had unexplained failure of fertilisation in previous IVF treatment. ICSI is only recommended in cases of proven male factor infertility.
Most patients have long protocol IVF, which starts with suppressing your hormones so we can take control of when you ovulate. This is called down-regulation, and at this clinic it’s done with tablets, medication called agonists. Later on, you take injections to stimulate your ovaries to produce follicles that will contain the mature eggs. Some patients have short protocol IVF in which the tablets aren’t required.
GCRM also offers antagonist cycles. The advantage of antagonist cycles is that treatment can be tailored closely to your individual needs. You take injections over a shorter period, minimising any discomfort and reducing the overall cost of medication. Another advantage is a reduced risk of ovarian hyperstimulation.
Embryos are monitored carefully and graded as they develop, and usually transferred 5 days after egg collection. Blastocyst culture involves allowing embryos to mature in laboratory conditions before attempting to transfer them. In natural conception, embryos would not normally reach the uterus until day 5; this is called the blastocyst stage of development.