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How long does it take to complete one cycle of IVF and is it enough to get pregnant? If not, what are the chances? · Dr Dad

Today, IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is a common word for pregnancy problems. IVF is not a single treatment but a series of procedures used to help with fertility problems.

During IVF, developed eggs are retrieved from ovaries then fertilized by sperm in a laboratory. Once an embryo form, they are placed in the uterus. One complete cycle of In Vitro Fertilization takes about three weeks. This is a difficult, time-taking, and expensive procedure; hence only a small number of couples with infertility seek it out. 

What Reasons of Infertility Can IVF Treat?

IVF is the most effective treatment for infertility or genetic problems. When it comes to infertility, In Vitro Fertilization may be an option if you and your partner has –

  • Fallopian Tube Blockage or Damage: Blockage or damage in a fallopian tube makes it difficult for the egg to fertilize or for a fertilized egg to travel the uterus.
  • Endometriosis: It is a situation where the uterine tissue grows outside the uterus. It affects the function of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
  • Uterine Fibroids: These are benign tumors on the uterus wall and common in females after 30. Fibroids interfere with the implantation process of the fertilized eggs.
  • The lack of ability of sperm to enter or survive inside the cervical mucus
  • Genetic disorder of mother or father
  • Low sperm count
  • Unexplained infertility

First Cycle of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):

Before the beginning of the first cycle of IVF using your eggs and sperm, you and your partner will need to perform different screenings, including –

  • Ovarian reserve testing
  • Semen analysis
  • Infectious disease screening
  • Mock embryo transfer
  • Uterine check-up

If you are using your egg during IVF, you will begin treatment with artificial hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs because some eggs would not fertilize or develop normally after fertilization. There are numerous steps for the first cycle of IVF which includes –

  1. Egg Retrieval:

It can be done in your doctor’s clinic 34-36 hours after the final injection and before the ovulation. Before the retrieval procedure, your doctor will give you medication injections that mature the developing eggs and start the ovulation process. The eggs must be collected before they emerge from the ovarian follicles. Doctors will perform blood tests or ultrasound tests to understand the same development stage before retrieving the egg. The IVF facility gives special instructions to follow the night before and the day of the procedure.

During the procedure, the doctor will detect the follicles with ultrasound and remove the eggs with a needle. The retrieving procedure takes less than 30 minutes to complete, but sometimes it may take up to an hour.

  1. Sperm Retrieval:

If you are using your partner’s sperm, he will give a semen sample at the doctor’s clinic the morning of egg retrieval. By using a needle or clinical procedure, sperms can be extracted directly from the testicles when required. Sperms are separated from the semen fluid in the laboratory.

  1. Fertilization:

Fertilization can be done using two methods.

  • Conventional Insemination – During this process, sperm and mature eggs are mixed and incubated overnight to ensure optimal growth.
  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection – When the partner’s sperm count is low or there is poor motility, your doctor may combine IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection. In this process, a healthy sperm is taken from semen or straight from testicles and inserted directly into the egg.
  1. Embryo Transfer:

Embryo transfer is done at your doctor’s clinic and you may even have to wait up to 5 days till the embryo achieves a more advanced blastocyst stage.

  • The embryo transfer procedure is easier and quicker than egg retrieval. Usually, it is painless, but you may experience mild cramping, so your doctor will give you a sedative.
  • The doctor will insert a thin and flexible tube known as catheter into your vagina, throughout the cervix and into your uterus, where the embryos will be placed.
  • A syringe containing the embryo or embryos will be suspended in a small amount of fluid attached to the end of the catheter.
  • By using the syringe, the doctor will place the embryo into your uterus.

If successful, an embryo will implant in the uterus lining about six to ten days after the egg retrieval.

  1. Results:

After 12 days to two weeks of egg retrieval, your doctor will test your blood to confirm your pregnancy and refer you to an obstetrician or pregnancy specialist.

What is the Success Rate for In Vitro Fertilization?

The success rate of IVF depends on numerous factors like infertility, age, and the IVF centre you are having the procedure done. But in most cases, pregnancy is achieved after the first cycle. But if the first cycle didn’t work and you are interested in attempting another IVF cycle, your doctor might suggest steps to improve the chances of getting pregnant by IVF.

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