In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of combining an egg and sperm not in the body, but in a laboratory dish. When the IVF procedure is successful, the process is continued with a procedure known as embryo transfer, which is used to physically place the embryo in the uterus.

A variety of related treatments are often a part of an IVF program:

Ovulation induction is the controlled administration of fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce mature eggs. It is typically applied to couples in which the woman who may not be ovulating on a regular basis. OI couples are advised on the best time for intercourse to achieve a pregnancy. Many couples need only a few months of OI in order to conceive, and IVF is not required.

Intrauterine insemination is the introduction of prepared sperm into the uterus in order to improve the chances of pregnancy.

Common causes of male infertility are low sperm count and low sperm motility in the ejaculate. In such cases, various methods of sperm retrieval are available. Extracting sperm from the testes (where they are produced) or from the epididymis (a tube through which they travel) can yield sufficient numbers of healthy cells to achieve fertilization of an egg. Various techniques are employed to collect the sperm cells, depending on the case. Methods include TESA (testicular sperm aspiration)), PESA (percutaneous sperm aspiration), and MESA (microepididymal sperm aspiration).

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is an IVF procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. This procedure is used to overcome male infertility problems. It is also used to fertilize eggs that are not easily penetrated by sperm.

The usual IVF procedure involves a transfer of the embryo to the womb on day two or three after fertilization, but for some women, a blastocyst embryo transfer may be better. A blastocyst is an embryo five to six days after it was fertilized. It is kept in a laboratory incubator until it develops and is then transferred to the womb.

Egg vitrification is a procedure to extract, freeze, and store a woman’s eggs for future use. This treatment can benefit women who want to preserve their chances of having children after undergoing such fertility-impairing treatments as chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Embryo vitrification is the fast-freeze method for embryos. This treatment is far more effective than the slow-freeze method previously used in IVF. It gives couples an opportunity to freeze fresh embryos on their first treatment cycle. Embryos are stored for future use.

Preimplantation genetic screening is used to check the genetic makeup of embryos, so that only healthy ones are placed in the uterus.

Women who do not produce viable eggs may choose to have IVF using an egg from a donor egg program.

Donor sperm programs provide anonymously donated sperm and may be used when the male partner’s semen is unsuitable for use in fertility treatments.

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Last updated on 31 May 2011