In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a process of fertilizing an egg in the lab and implanting it into a woman’s uterus. An ideal IVF cycle takes about 3-4 weeks to complete. The success rates of getting pregnant with IVF vary with many factors, especially the maternal age. Some women successfully get pregnant after the first cycle. But in most cases, couples have to wait for several cycles. However, the good news is that the procedure alone has 50% of success rates. In this article, we will be discussing the procedures, odds, risk factors, accurate success rates, side effects, data, and briefly everything you need to know about IVF.
1. Introduction to IVF
1.1. What is IVF?
IVF is a series of medical procedures to assist with the conception of a child. Here, the eggs are fertilized by sperm in a lab and then the embryo is transferred into the uterus. Vitro is a Latin term that means ‘glass’ or anything external to vivo – a living organism. Since the procedure involves glass objects like test tubes and Petri dishes, it is called in-vitro fertilization.
1. 2. Donors, Gestational Carriers and Surrogates
IVF sometimes involves only the couples i.e. your egg and your partner’s sperm. Other times, it involves anonymous donor(s). In some cases, a gestational carrier (GC) – a woman who offers to carry your child in her uterus – is involved. When the GC also donates her egg, it is called surrogacy. In the case of surrogacy, the surrogate becomes the biological mother of the child, since both her egg and uterus are involved.
2. When should you try IVF?
IVF may be the option if you or your partner has the following conditions:
- Damaged fallopian tubes
- Ovulation disorders
- Endometriosis – Uterine tissues growing outside the uterus.
- Uterine fibroids – Benign tumors in the wall of the uterus
- Sterilization through tubal ligation
- Impaired sperm function (or even production)
- Genetic disorder
- Unexplained infertility – When no known cause of infertility is detected
- Precautional Procedures – If you are about to take treatments that might increase the odds of fertility like radiation or chemotherapy, it is safer to preserve your eggs for later use.
3. What are the risks of IVF?
Like every other medical procedure, IVF also has certain odds and disadvantages. The risks involved in IVF may include the following:
- Multiple births: When more than one embryo is implanted, sometimes it can lead to multiple births.
- Prematurity: Multiple fetuses can result in early birth and lower birth weight. Sometimes it can also lead to birth defects depending on the maternal age.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome: Fertility boost drugs like human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome that makes your ovaries swollen and painful. It also leads to abdominal pain, rapid weight gain, shortness of breath, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms last from a week to several weeks.
- Miscarriage: The chances of miscarriage in IVF increases with maternal age.
- Egg retrieval side-effects: In general, aspirating needles are used to collect eggs. Sometimes, they can damage other parts including blood vessels, bowels, or bladder, and can result in bleeding. Some patients also experience side effects on sedation and anesthesia.
- Ectopic pregnancy: When the embryo cannot survive because it implants outside the uterus especially in the fallopian tubes.
3. 1. Multiple Embryos
The odds of IVF increases with maternal age. For older women (above 35), more embryos will be transferred because their implantation rates of success are lower. This can sometimes lead to multiple pregnancies. Delivering multiple babies is risky. At the same time, the fetal reduction can be psychologically draining. However, doctors follow some procedures to prevent multiple pregnancies. Just ensure that you discuss with your doctor on the number of embryos that would be transferred, beforehand. Take a second consultation for safety. After successful IVF, you can either discard the extra embryos or cryopreserve them for the future if you plan to have another baby. Preserving embryos would make the next IVF less expensive.
3.2. Chances of Having a healthy baby using IVF
The odds of having a healthy baby through IVF depends on many factors. The most common factors are your age, the reason for infertility, the status of the embryos, reproductive rates, and history, and lifestyle factors like smoking. So the odds can vary from women to women. It is better to consult a doctor to find out your possibilities.
4. How long does it take to get pregnant with IVF?
An ideal IVF cycle takes about 3-4 weeks. However, if the procedures are fragmented, and the process can take longer. The good news is that some lucky women successfully get pregnant in the first cycle itself against all odds. But unfortunately, most don’t. According to statistics, women under 30 have 46% of success rates after the first cycle whereas 30-33 have 58% and 34-40 have 38% and 40-43 have less than 1%. Statistics suggest that, on average, individuals undergo 6 embryo transfers on an average before achieving pregnancy success. However, there are also chances of not getting pregnant with IVF, especially when the number of odds is higher. Data reveals that the odds are that the overall success rates of IVF are 50%. The only way to find out if IVF will bring success for you is by trying out a few cycles. There is no accurate limit to the rates of IVF cycles a person should undergo per year, you should specifically consult these rates with your doctor.
5. Preparing for IVF
5.1. Before IVF
Before trying IVF treatment, it is recommended that you try less invasive procedures. For example, fertilization drugs increase the production of eggs and sperms. You can also try intrauterine insemination where the sperm is artificially introduced in your uterus near the time of ovulation. If you are lucky, these procedures can lead to a successful pregnancy.
5.2. Screening Procedures
Before beginning the IVF treatment, you and your partner would go through several screening procedures. Firstly, the condition of eggs, semen, and the uterine lining will be tested for any odds. Then you and your partner will be screened for infectious diseases like HIV. The doctors might also examine the depth of your uterine cavity using a mock embryo transfer. If you successfully get through these screening rounds, you are eligible for IVF.
5.3. After IVF
After the treatment, odds are that you might come across the following side-effects. But the good news is that there’s nothing to panic because they are mild and normal.
- Mild fluid discharge for a short time
- Breast tenderness
In Vitro Fertilization also involves stress. It is physically, emotionally, and financially draining because it is invasive, expensive, and time-consuming. Though you can carry on with your normal lifestyle after IVF, avoid vigorous and stressful activities for a few days to minimize the odds of complexity. To be successful, it is important to take care of your physical and psychological health against all odds.
Wrapping it up
If you have uncertainty and anxiety, during IVF, it’s common. Your emotions are also influenced by the hormones that respond to the treatment. But there’s nothing to panic. According to statistics, one in eight women needs extra help in getting pregnant. Eat healthily, do some meditation, and keep your mental health in good shape. A healthy lifestyle can have great impacts on fertility. Emotional stability and the odds of pregnancy are correlated. It’s not just your uterus that needs special care but your brain plays a major role in getting pregnant too. All the best on becoming a successful mother-to-be 🙂
Ragaavi is a Content Writer and loves to blog about health related articles particularly about fertility care. She enjoys learning and She specializes in guest blogging, blog publishing, and social media. She is an avid reader and loves writing impeccable contents pertaining to health care. She holds a bachelor degree in Engineering.