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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)


In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a series of procedures that can treat genetic or fertility issues and help with the conception of your child. A more common procedure called artificial insemination, involves delivering sperm to the womb but IVF goes beyond this.

IVF is a complex process, in which mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and fertilized with sperm, outside the woman’s body. Since fertilization takes place in a lab, children born with the aid of IVF are commonly referred to as “test tube babies”.  The fertilized egg or the embryo is then implanted in the woman’s uterus.

IVF is the most effective method of assisted reproductive technology and according to The South African Register of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (SARA), there is about a 40% success rate per treatment cycle in women under 38 years [1]. With IVF, a woman can use her own eggs and her partner’s sperm. Alternatively, it can be done using eggs, sperms or embryos from a donor.

Success rates with IVF are high and a woman’s chance of having a healthy baby with IVF may depend on her age and cause of infertility. Speak to your doctor to understand how the procedure works, whether it is the right method for you and its potential risks.

Who can benefit from IVF?

IVF is commonly recommended to women with the following problems:

  • You have blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
  • You have used fertility drugs and fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), with no success
  • Your partner has a minor issue with his sperm
  • You have been trying to conceive for at least two years
  • You are above 40 years of age and are trying to conceive, but with no success for the last 1-2 years

The following may increase your chances of having a healthy baby with IVF:

  • If you have been pregnant or have had a baby before
  • If you are of a healthy weight (a BMI between 18.5 and 25). If you are overweight or underweight, consider reaching a healthier weight to increase your chance of success with IVF

How long will an IVF treatment last?

One IVF cycle takes 4 to 6 weeks to complete. You and your partner may have to spend about half a day at a clinic for the collection of eggs and fertilization to be carried out. You’ll be asked to return 2-3 days later for the embryos to be transferred to your uterus.

After the procedure

After the embryo is transferred to the uterus, it is advisable that the woman rests for the remainder of the day – but complete bed rest is not necessary, unless there is a risk of OHSS (Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome). In most cases, women are able to return to regular activities the next day.

In addition, women undergoing IVF are required to take daily pills or shots of the hormone, progesterone following the transfer of the embryo to the uterus. Progesterone helps thicken the lining of the womb, thereby making it easier for the embryo to implant. Lack of progesterone in the early weeks of pregnancy may increase the risk of a miscarriage.

14 days following the embryo transfer, you will be asked to return to the clinic for a pregnancy test.

Success rate

Our IVF success rate can be credited to the superior level of experience and remarkable care in the field of clinical infertility, laboratory methodology and embryology research that the clinics we work with possess. Our network of specialists and private hospitals is among the most trusted and reputable in the whole of South Africa.

Clinics we team-up with pride themselves in keeping up with latest research and science and in having an exceptional embryology team that is dedicated to the most progressive methods of embryo culture – a process in which an egg is fertilized with sperm to form an embryo.

 

References

  1. South African Register of Assisted Reproductive Techniques, SARA report 2010

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