After marriage getting pregnant and having their own children is the most important thing in a couple’s life. But, there are many couples in the world who cannot conceive naturally due to some or the other reason. In vitro fertilization is a relief for all the childless couples who want to get pregnant. This discovery has come like a boon to all the couples who cannot conceive naturally. This technique is also useful in getting pregnant at a later age for woman.
What is In vitro fertilization?
In this process, the women’s ovaries are stimulated, an egg or eggs are removed from the women’s ovaries. The egg is fertilized by the sperm outside in the laboratories in a liquid medium. They culture the fertilized eggs for a few days. Then the zygote is implanted into the woman’s uterus for a successful pregnancy. In vitro fertilization is particularly used in infertility and gestational surrogacy. The actual Latin meaning of the term in vitro is in glass. In earlier days all the biological processes were done in glass containers. Today, any biological experiment that is done outside the human body is called in vitro process.
Methods used in In vitro fertilization
Just fertilizing the egg outside the woman’s body and implanting it inside the womb is not enough. This entire process should be supported by other techniques. There are five basic steps involved in the process of In vitro fertilization. These steps are as follows
- Ovarian stimulation
- Removal of eggs
- Embryo culture
- Embryo transfer
Usually a woman produces about one egg every month. In ovarian stimulation fertility drugs are given to woman to produce multiple eggs. Regular ultrasounds and blood tests are performed to observe the woman’s ovaries and hormone levels.
Removal of eggs
The eggs are retrieved from woman’s ovary by a particular minor surgery called follicular aspiration. In this process painkiller medicines are given to the patient. After this a thin needle is inserted through the woman’s vagina into the ovarian sac. The doctor takes the help of the ultrasound images to see the position of the needle. This thin needle is attached to the suction pump. The suction device pulls the egg and the liquid out of the ovarian follicle one by one.
Pelvic laparoscopy may also be performed to remove the eggs.
Good quality sperms are placed with good quality eggs. The mixing process is called insemination. The sperm usually fertilizes the egg a few hours after insemination. The place where the inseminated sperm and egg are stored is environmentally controlled. Sometimes the sperms are also directly injected into the eggs. This process is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
The fertilized egg starts dividing. The fertilized egg is called an embryo. The laboratory staff observes it daily to check the growth pattern. At certain centers pre implantation genetic diagnosis is offered for the couples who have the fear of transmitting hereditary disease to the child. The technique is performed when the embryo is 3 to 4 days old.
The doctor inserts the catheter containing the embryo from the vagina into the woman’s uterus. If the embryo implants into the walls of the uterus and grows, the pregnancy is positive.
The unused embryo is frozen. It is donated at a later date.
Why is In vitro fertilization performed ?
The couple may be infertile due to many reasons like
- Advanced age of women
- Fallopian tube blockage
- Male infertility
- Unexplained infertility
In vitro fertilization helps in getting the woman pregnant and helps in solving all these issues.
Post procedure care
The women is asked to take rest of a day or two. Pills or shots of progesterone are given for 8 to 10 weeks after embryo transfer. Pregnancy is confirmed after two weeks of embryo transfer.
Risks involved in In vitro fertilization
The entire process of In vitro fertilization in emotionally, physically and financially draining. IVF medicines are administered through injections. The IVF medicines may lead to Ovarian Hyper stimulation syndrome. This leads to fluid build up in the abdominal area. The egg retrieval process may lead to bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding structures like ovaries, bowel and bladder.