IVF (in vitro fertilization)
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is fertilization of an egg by a sperm that occurs outside the female body.
In nature, an egg is fertilized by a sperm in one of the fallopian tubes.
During IVF, fertilization occurs in the laboratory with the help of specialized scientists who are called embryologists.
Embryologists use the woman’s eggs and the man’s sperm to create the couple’s embryos.
In other words, IVF is a process that uses an artificial way to produce one or more perfectly normal embryos.
These embryos can then be transferred inside the woman’s womb and hopefully start a healthy pregnancy.
Do I need to have IVF?
There are couples for which IVF is the only option to achieve a pregnancy (e.g. in azoospermia).
But such couples are not the norm.
For the majority of couples, IVF is only one of the options available. For example, mild sperm problems can sometimes be treated with IUI or ovulation problems can often be overcome by taking clomiphene.
But IVF has the best success rate compared to other options.
In conclusion, there are cases when IVF MUST be performed (as there is no other option) and cases when IVF MAY be performed (as other options are not as effective).
Cases when IVF is necessary (no other option available)
- Tubal obstruction (e.g. hydrosalpinges) or removal of fallopian tubes
Cases when IVF is the most effective option (but other options could also be effective)
- Long duration of infertility
- Female age >35 or >40
- Moderate/severe sperm problems
- Failure of other assisted reproduction methods
- Need for pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for hereditary diseases
Which IVF methods are available?
There are three main IVF methods:
- Conventional IVF – Stimulates the ovaries to develop many eggs
- ICSI- like conventional IVF, but preferred in special cases (e.g. very weak sperm)
- Natural IVF or mild IVF (without medications or with few medications) – there is no (or minimal) ovarian stimulation, but the egg of the natural cycle of the woman is used