The miracle of pregnancy may somehow be a bit difficult and impossible for couples who have been suffering from some fertility issues. But modern technology now makes it more likely and feasible to make even the most infertile couple pregnant with their own child. Here, let us discover the colourful world of in vitro fertilisation by following the progress of the IVF process day by day.
IVF process day by day: Weeks 1 to 2
The first week of IVF is where everything gets discussed. Once you decided to seek the help of a fertility specialist, it opens your doors to the possibility of becoming pregnant using different assisted reproductive technology procedures. If IVF is your chosen fertility procedure, discussion about its process and the financial aspect of it gets handled here. Your doctor also orders tests to confirm that IVF is the best solution for your infertility.
IVF process day by day: Weeks 3 to 5
This is where the whole procedure starts. Birth control medications are given based on the results of your tests. The goal is to make your menstrual cycle on a regular basis to prepare your ovaries for ovulation. Once your menstrual cycle is established, fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries, are given. Typically, one egg cell matures in one menstrual cycle, but with the pills, the goal is to have at least 4 mature eggs ready for harvest. The development and progress of the egg maturation get monitored diligently through ultrasounds and blood tests.
IVF process day by day: Week 7
This is the critical part of the whole procedure. After less than two weeks of medication, the fertility specialist determines the number of mature eggs that developed. Egg retrieval through the use of ultrasound and a very fine needle happens. Under sedation, the doctor inserts the needle through the vagina and into the ovary to retrieve the eggs one by one. While this is happening, semen sample collection from the male partner also happens so that fertilisation can occur as soon as the eggs are retrieved.
Fertilisation happens during this time in different ways. The most common is just to combine the egg and the sperm in a medium and incubate them together for 1 to 2 days. The other way to fertilise the egg is to inject a live and active sperm directly to the egg. The latter method is called Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), and it is used when the couple has problems with male infertility, or if the semen contains weak or poor-quality sperms.
Embryo transfer and implantation
Monitoring the eggs as they fertilise is done daily and helps fertility specialists to determine the number and quality of the eggs that are viable for implantation. After at least three days of fertilisation, the fertilised egg or what we now call an embryo gets prepared for transfer to the uterus. A thin cannula carries an egg or eggs and passes through the cervix to enter the uterus. The egg or eggs are then left in the uterine wall and is expected to implant naturally. Sometimes, an additional method called assisted hatching is done where the outer covering of the embryo gets poked or scratched to make a hole so that it would be easier for it to implant in the uterus.
IVF process day by day: Approximately Week 10
Two weeks after the implantation or egg transfer, your doctor orders you to take a pregnancy test. If the first test turns out positive, another one should be taken one week after. If it is still positive, your care will then be transferred to an OB-GYN, and prenatal exams will push through. If it is negative, your doctor will discuss with you the next steps that you may want to take, either undergoing another cycle or thinking twice about it.
Now that you know the IVF process day-by-day account and how rigorous the whole process is, may it somehow help you prepare as you journey into the wonderful world of parenthood.