What is IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) ?

Dr Priya Sharma

Dr Priya Sharma

BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery), 6 years of experience

November 6, 2021 Womens Health 1077 Views

English हिन्दी Bengali

What is the meaning of IVF?

IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) (popularly known as a test-tube baby) is a common type of assisted reproductive technology that helps couples struggling with infertility in conceiving. In this process, the female’s eggs are combined with the male’s sperm to form an embryo in the laboratory, which is then transferred into the woman’s uterus. 

The procedure can be done using a woman’s own eggs and her partner’s sperm or using eggs and sperm from a donor. Many couples who are unable to get pregnant opt for IVF treatment. Not all women require IVF, but women who are unable to benefit from fertility treatment may benefit from IVF. 

Let us tell you about IVF treatment in detail in this article-

  • What is the purpose of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?
  • What are the symptoms of infertility in females?
  • What are the symptoms of infertility in males?
  • What is the preparation before IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?
  • What is the procedure of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?
  • What is Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)? And why is it advised along with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?
  • What are the steps of care after IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?
  • What are the risks of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?
  • What is the success rate of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?
  • What is the cost of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) in India?
  • Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about IVF

What is the purpose of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

In Vitro Fertilization (test-tube babies) is particularly useful in conditions such as-

  • Fallopian tube blockage or absence of a fallopian tube. ( Know more about- What are the symptoms of Blocked Fallopian Tube? )
  • Unexplained infertility 
  • Endometriosis (a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside the uterus) ( Know more about- What is Endometriosis? )
  • Low sperm count or an absence of sperms
  • Advanced reproductive age (>40 years)
  • Fertility preservation- for example, chemotherapy and radiation for treatment of cancer can cause infertility ( Know more about- What is Chemotherapy? )
  • Women with normal ovaries but non-functional uterus
  • Women with genetic risk ( Know more about- What is Amniocentesis? )
  • Ovarian failure

What are the symptoms of infertility in females?

  • Irregular menstrual cycle or abnormal periods 
  • Absence of periods ( Know more about- Delayed periods )
  • Extreme pain during periods
  • Unable to have a child after having sexual intercourse for over a year without using contraceptives.
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) ( Know more aboutWhat is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS ) ? )
  • Symptoms of hormonal problems that can cause infertility include: 
  1. Unexplained weight gain
  2. Skin problems (e.g., Acne) ( Know more about- What are Skin Disorders? )
  3. Excessive growth of facial hair
  4. Changes in sex drive
  5. Pain during sex

What are the symptoms of infertility in males?

In men, the following may be a sign of infertility-

  • Inability to maintain an erection.
  • Inability to ejaculate.
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Small testicles

What is the preparation before IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

A few different tests are available to confirm infertility in both men and women. However, these are necessary and helpful in deciding diagnosis and treatment.

Below are some tests to check infertility in women-

  • Physical examination- The doctor will first do a general test, in which he will ask about your previous illness history and do a physical examination. The doctor may also perform other tests like blood tests, urine tests, pap smears, and a pelvic examination.
  • Blood tests measure hormone levels (progesterone, FSH, thyroid, estrogen) which are important for fertility.
  • Ultrasound – An ultrasound of the pelvic area helps the doctor to check the condition of the internal organs and identify any problems.
  • Hysterosalpingogram – A contrast dye is injected into the uterus through the cervix to check for blockages in the uterus or fallopian tubes. There is no obstruction if the dye passes through the open end of the fallopian tube. It can be seen in X-rays.
  • Laparoscopy – A small device with a camera attached to it is inserted through a small cut below the navel to check for abnormalities in the reproductive organs. ( Know more about- What are Diagnostic Laparoscopic Gynecological Problems?)

Diagnostic tests for men

  • Blood tests to measure hormone levels (testosterone, FSH).
  • Semen Analysis – Evaluate semen and sperm based on volume, sperm count, sperm morphology, etc.
  • Genetic testing – Infertility can be detected by identifying any genetic causes.
  • Imaging techniques – Such as a transrectal or scrotal ultrasound or MRI can help detect any abnormalities in the male reproductive organs.
  • Biopsy of the testicle – It helps to find any abnormalities present in the testicles.

What is the procedure of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) ?

  • The procedure begins with giving medications (hormones) to the woman to produce multiple eggs in a month and start the process of ovulation. 
  • The eggs are extracted from the ovary with the help of a small needle which is guided by an ultrasound. This process is performed under mild sedation. 
  • The eggs are then fused with the semen sample (which contains the sperms) given by her partner. The process of fertilization of the egg and sperm takes place in the laboratory, and once the embryo is ready in about 3 days, it is transferred into the uterus of the woman. 
  • This embryo then develops into a fetus (baby).
  • If the woman cannot bear the child, the fertilized egg is implanted in a surrogate. One cycle of IVF takes about 4 weeks but can vary depending on the circumstances. 

What is Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)? And why is it advised along with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is a procedure done to screen the embryo before it is transferred (implanted) into the woman’s uterus to check for any genetic abnormalities (such as Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, cancer genes, etc.) in the embryo. After screening for any genetic defects, only the healthy embryos are implanted. Hence it avoids the difficult decision of terminating an ongoing pregnancy if a genetic defect is diagnosed at a later stage of pregnancy and is considered an alternative to prenatal diagnosis. It is highly recommended if the parents have a known genetic abnormality that can be inherited by the child. This procedure is 98%-99% accurate in detecting abnormalities. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is an expensive procedure costing about INR 50,000.

What are the steps of care after IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

The IVF procedure is painless, and the woman is required to take bed rest for 4-6 hours after the procedure, after which she can go home on the same day. However, the doctor may discharge the patient with prescribed medicines to increase the chances of pregnancy. Apart from this, some other caution is recommended, like avoiding vigorous activity. For better results, one should follow the instructions of the doctor.

If the woman experiences any abnormalities after this procedure, contact your doctor immediately.

What are the risks of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

There may be some risks and complications associated with IVF, including-

  • Multiple births
  • Miscarriage
  • Birth Defects
  • Premature delivery and low birth weight
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in which ovaries become swollen and painful
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Psychological stress

IVF is not advised in patients with:

  • Small uterine cavity
  • Tubercular endometritis
  • Those who cannot afford the treatment.

What is the success rate of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) ?

IVF is one of the most commonly used assisted reproductive techniques. The conception rate is 75%-80%, and the take-home baby rate is about 25% per cycle. The success rate of IVF varies with age, being highest for younger women (<30) and lesser for women in advanced age groups (>40). Similar procedures such as gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) that involves the transfer of the fertilized egg or embryo to the fallopian tube can also be used in case In Vitro Fertilization fails or is not suggested.

What is the cost of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) in India ?

The total cost of IVF treatment in India can range from around INR 2,00,000 to INR 5,00,000. The cost of IVF treatment may vary across different hospitals and different cities. There are many large hospitals and skilled doctors in India who perform IVF treatments. 

If you are coming from abroad, apart from the cost of IVF, there will be an additional cost of staying in a hotel, cost of living, cost of local travel, etc. Hence, the total cost of IVF treatment in India can range from INR 2,50,000 to INR 5,50,000. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about IVF

1) How many times can I try IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

Answer- On average, a woman tries 3-4 cycles of IVF before opting for another procedure. However, factors such as the woman’s age, affordability, and the physical and psychological state of the woman play an important role in deciding the number of tries.

2) After an unsuccessful cycle of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), when should I try again?

Answer- After 4-6 weeks, a new cycle of IVF can begin.

3) How many embryos are implanted in one cycle?

Answer- On average, 2-4 embryos are implanted. In older women, more embryos (4-5) are implanted to increase the chances of pregnancy.

4) Are the chances of having twins/triplets higher with IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

Answer- It is seen that 20%-30% of pregnancies through IVF result in multiple births, the most common being twins and rarely triplets.

5) When will I know if I have become pregnant after IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)?

Answer- The pregnancy can be confirmed 12-14 days after the embryo is transferred into the uterus by a pregnancy test.

6) Is IVF (In vitro fertilization) painful?

Answer- The procedure is not painful. However, most people face psychological stress, especially after an unsuccessful IVF cycle. 

We hope we were able to answer your questions on IVF in this article.

If you want to get more information on IVF, then please contact a Gynecologist

The purpose of this article is to provide you with information. We do not recommend any medication or treatment in any form. Only a doctor can give you the best advice and correct treatment plan.

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