Now you know what fertility treatment you need, the next question is often ‘what happens next?’.
Put simply, IVF is when your eggs are retrieved and fertilised in a laboratory with semen from your partner or a donor. The resulting embryos are then transferred into your uterus to begin growing as in a normal pregnancy.
In order to maximise egg retrieval, we will use drugs to stimulate the ovaries to release more eggs than usual. You will be able to self-inject these at home. We will then
extract the eggs in theatre using a mild sedation, and you can go home a few hours later.
The eggs are drawn into a tube which is then given to the embryologists. This specialist team assess the eggs for maturity and quality, and they are then incubated to await fertilisation.
Sperm from your partner – or a donor – is analysed to pick out the best quality, mobile sperm. In standard IVF, the sperm is placed into the dish containing the egg and special nutrients which allow them to survive outside the body.
If the egg is fertilised, it becomes an embryo, which is monitored over the course of a few days to assess whether it is growing correctly, and to get them to the necessary stage for transfer.
If ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is to be done, this involves injecting one sperm directly into the egg. Where ICSI is used, it can tell the embryologist in as little as 18 hours if fertilisation has occurred.
The best quality embryos will then be transferred back into your uterus, in a simple procedure That does not need any sedation or anaesthesia. To increase the chances of pregnancy, usually a couple of embryos are transferred – hence why twin births through IVF are common. Depending on your age and the quality of your embryos we may suggest replacing a single embryo. This prevents twins but does not decrease the ultimate chances of having a baby if the frozen embryos are of high quality.
If there are multiple good quality embryos, these can be stored for future use – for example if you don’t get pregnant from the treatment, or if you decide at a later date to extend your family.
Once the embryos have been transferred, there is nothing more you can do except to take any drugs that may be necessary and to take a pregnancy test approximately two weeks later. This can be done through urine or blood testing.
Whether you get a positive or negative result, IVF is an emotional roller coaster. Some couples need only one cycle to have a child, others need more, and for some it may not work at all.
This is why counselling is one of the most important aspects of infertility treatment. At Manchester Fertility, our team of trained counsellors will be at your side every step of the way, right from the start, giving you and your partner all the support you need.