IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is a treatment used to overcome a range of fertility issues. During this procedure an egg and sperm are joined together outside the body, in a highly specialised fertility laboratory.
The fertilised egg (which is then an embryo) grows in a protected environment for some days before being transferred into the woman’s uterus increasing the chance that a pregnancy will occur.
IVF would be one of the most known fertility treatments, and it can be beneficial for a range of fertility issues. IVF may be beneficial if you or your partner have some medical conditions, such as difficulty ovulating, endometriosis, sperm impairment or unexplained infertility. If there is a known genetic condition in your family, or recurrent miscarriage then IVF treatment in conjunction with chromosome screening or preimplantation genetic testing might be a recommended procedure.
For single women, or same-sex couples using donor sperm, IVF is the quicker path to parenthood due to its high pregnancy success. Of course, this is based on age, egg quality and quantity and health factors.
In spite how common it is to have IVF treatment, it’s actually a complex process, involving many steps done by highly skilled doctors and laboratory technicians. To over-simplify how IVF works we’ve broken it down into steps:
A personalised hormone medication plan is developed based on your age, past history and results of both hormonal and ultrasound evaluations. These hormones spur your ovaries to grow multiple follicles. During this process, you will return to our clinic every few days to monitor follicles using ultrasound and blood tests.
Dr Flynn surgically retrieves the mature eggs using a minor surgical procedure where under ultrasound guidance a needle is inserted into the ovary to remove the eggs. Our skilled embryologists then isolate the eggs.
A sperm sample is carefully prepared. The embryologist will identify the healthiest sperm and retrieved eggs and combine them in the laboratory. In other situations, a procedure called ICSI would involve injecting a single sperm into each egg.
When the eggs are successfully fertilised, the same laboratory incubates the embryos. In a tightly controlled laboratory environment, the embryos are monitored and nurtured to develop stable embryos ready for transfer. This can also occur in conjunction with digital time lapse imagery via the “embryoscope” to optimise the best conditions for the embryo.
Dr Flynn then transfers the embryo into the woman’s uterus with the hope that a healthy foetus develops into a viable pregnancy. This is a simple procedure where a catheter is inserted through the cervix and the embryo is transferred.
Any extra embryos not used during an IVF treatment cycle and that are suitable for freezing can be stored for future use.
Many people worry that IVF will lead to twins or triplets. While there is a higher incidence of multiple pregnancies with any artificial reproductive treatment the risk of multiple births has been reduced with IVF treatment since the introduction of the single embryo transfer policy. However, treatment with intrauterine insemination and ovulation induction does pose a 10% risk of a multiple pregnancy. That’s why Dr Flynn will closely monitor your treatment to minimise this risk.
Like every method for becoming pregnant, there are many factors that can influence the chances of IVF success, such as your age, egg and sperm quality and other medical conditions. If a cycle is not successful, there are factors that can improve your chances in another cycle, such as modifying hormonal stimulation based on previous response to treatment or using donor sperm.
Ask your GP for a referral to Dr Michael Flynn - print this Referral Request and hand it to your GP.