IVF is the fertility treatment term most people recognise, but don’t necessarily fully understand how much variation this covers – mainly because each course of IVF is different. We do not believe in the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach; from natural IVF and mild stimulation IVF, to conventional and high stimulation IVF, to complex personalised protocols, every woman’s fertility journey must be unique to her physiology, her emotions, and her medical history.
Essentially though, IVF is a process that removes an egg from a woman’s ovaries (either the mother-to-be or a donor) and fertilises it with sperm (again, either the father-to-be or a donor) in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, now an embryo, is then returned to the woman’s womb to continue as a normal pregnancy.
Whichever IVF protocol option we decide is best for you though, the process itself is much the same, taking place over approximately two to two and a half weeks. The first step is developing the eggs, when you will come to our clinic for a number of scans that will monitor the size of the follicles (within which eggs are found) – once they are large enough, you’ll be given an injection to mature your eggs ready for collection.
For the collection itself, performed under sedation by one of our consultant anaesthetists, a fine needle attached to a scanning probe will passed through your vagina into each ovary to collect the eggs from the follicles. Your male partner will also need to produce a semen sample, or your donor sperm will be thawed ready for use.
The embryologists will then prepare the sperm for insemination, mix it with the eggs and hopefully wait for fertilisation (if the sperm quality is poor, we may perform ICSI – which involves injecting the sperm directly into the egg). The following day, we will be able to tell you how many embryos you have, and within the next 5 days after egg collection (assuming fertilisation is successful) we will either transfer the chosen embryo into your womb, or freeze them for a future cycle, depending on your specific treatment plan.