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What does IVF involve?

You may find the following information helpful. It has been put together by experts in IVF from across the UK and published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical excellence (NICE) guidelines “Fertility: assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems”.

IVF or In-Vitro Fertilisation is the stimulation and fertilisation of a woman’s egg without sexual intercourse. Therefore it occurs in a specially designed laboratory. This is why the term test tube baby is commonly used, even though test tubes are not actually involved in the process.

The IVF treatment occurs in cycles, as there are various stages that must be completed in order for any chance of success.

Step 1: Known as switching off the woman’s natural cycle of egg production in the ovaries or (down-regulation). A drug is used to do this in the form of a nasal spray or injection.

Step 2: stimulating the ovaries to produce more than one egg (ovulation induction). This is where fertility drugs are used to stimulate your ovaries. This helps women to produce more than one egg at a time.

Step 3: collecting the mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries using a fine needle guided by ultrasound scan. This procedure may be uncomfortable, but is not usually painful.

Step 4: collecting sperm from the man. This can be either naturally produced, or by sperm recovery. Either way it should be produced on the same day as the egg being collected.

Step 5: mixing the eggs with a man’s sperm in the laboratory. This is usually done in a special dish, allowing the sperm to fertilise the egg. The fertilised egg or now an embryo should remain in an incubator for up to 6 days.

Step 6: At least 1 embryo should be transferred back in to the womb when they are usually 6 days old. However depending on a woman’s cycle it could be sooner.

Step 7: If an embryo successfully attaches to the inside of the womb and continues to grow, the result is a pregnancy.

For more information click here: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) - Regulator of UK IVF Clinics and Fertility Treatment

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