In Vitro Fertilisation
In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) has been successfully available for 40 years. In the early days, it was done with one egg at a time and success rates were low. Now, it is common to stimulate the ovary with a natural hormone injection to make several eggs grow at the same time. This increases the chances of a good egg being amongst those removed from the body and then being able to successfully accept a sperm and begin new life.
IVF means 'fertilisation in glass', or in common language, 'test-tube baby' treatment. It involves putting a woman's egg together with many sperm from her partner in a dish and watching natural fertilisation take place.
IntraCytoplasmic Sperm Injection
ICSI is a laboratory modification where one sperm is injected into the egg to increase the chance of fertilisation happening. It is used when the sperm count or quality is not normal.
How does it work?
- The laboratory allows the fertilised eggs, now called embryos, to grow under observation for two to six days.
- A process of selection takes place during this time, to identify as far as possible, the embryo(s) with the best chance of continuing to develop into a baby.
- This embryo is then separated from the rest and transferred to the woman’s womb in a procedure that feels similar to having a cervical smear test. After the embryo transfer, further medicines are taken to give the embryo every chance to attach (implant) and start the journey of pregnancy. A standard urine pregnancy test should be positive after two weeks if the treatment has been successful.
- If so, the first pregnancy ultrasound follows about three weeks later. At this stage, the pregnancy sac is large enough to see on the scan, along with a flickering heartbeat.
If you produce more good quality embryos than can be used for one treatment (transfer), they can be frozen and saved for use later on. Human embryos generally cope well with freezing and thawing (90% will survive) and this does not affect their ability to grow into a healthy child, regardless of how long they are frozen.