Monday, May 01, 2006

A Layman's Guide to IVF

A couple of folks have asked me just how this whole IVF thing works - which is a great question! I forget sometimes that we have been rather immersed in this process for a while and that other people have no idea! So here is the rough guide to what happens.

Firstly, they check to make sure you have nothing wrong with your insides that could interfere with a pregnancy. Then they run lots of blood tests to make sure you are actually ovulating (producing an egg each month). They also check the sperm for movement and health and numbers.

Once all that is done they put the female onto the contraceptive pill for about a month to stop her ovulating, and keep her "regular". When all is in readiness, the pill is stopped and three days later she starts injecting hormonal drugs to stimulate the egg follicles to make eggs - more than one! The aim is around seven to eight. Frequent blood tests and ultra sounds are performed to measure the number of follicles (which is where the eggs come from) and their size. When all looks good a trigger injection is given to "mature" the eggs which are then harvested by use of a needle a day or so later.

These eggs are then placed in a dish and sperm is added. In carefully controlled conditions the eggs and sperm are left overnight, with eggs that have fertilised being cultured for a further couple of days. The aim is to have two to three eggs for implantation with any extras being frozen for future use. Then, the eggs are placed back into the uterus again by use of a needle where they hopefully will take hold and implant, becoming a pregnancy!

As you can see, there are a lot of steps to this process - and at any time, at any step along the way, a bad result will see us having to stop this cycle. For example, if I react too strongly to the drugs and start making a lot of eggs, they will have to stop as those eggs will not be good quality, and we would have to consider starting over on a different drug dosage.

So, all we can say is watch and wait with us! There are no guarantees, but it sure is worth a damn good try!



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