IVF (In vitro fertilisation)
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a treatment to help couples with fertility problems to have a baby. In IVF, sperm is combined with an egg in a laboratory and the fertilised egg (embryo) is transferred to a woman's womb.
IVF treatment may help if:
- your ovaries don't produce eggs regularly
- you have damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
- you have problems with your sperm
IVF can also help couples who have unexplained infertility. IVF can be carried out with your own sperm and eggs or with donor sperm or donor eggs.
How can I prepare for my IVF?
Your doctor will explain how to prepare and what will happen when you have IVF. For women, you will need to take medicines to control the timing of your monthly cycle. This will ensure your eggs can be removed and fertilised on a specific day. You will also take a medicine to boost the number of eggs your ovaries produce.
Your hospital may ask you not to eat or drink anything for a set time before your procedure to collect eggs. You will be seen as a day case. Arrange to have someone take you home afterwards.
What happens during my IVF?
Before your treatment starts, your doctor will talk you through the IVF process and ask you to sign a consent form.
IVF egg collection is usually performed under sedation. This will help you to relax and relieve any anxiety. Your doctor will insert a needle through your vagina and into your ovary and collect your eggs. Your doctor will use ultrasound to help guide the needle into your ovaries. Men are usually asked to produce a sperm sample on the same day.
Your sperm and eggs are mixed together in a laboratory to make embryos and stored in an incubator for up to six days.
Next you will return to hospital and your doctor will place up to three embryos in your womb. Your doctor will insert a catheter (fine tube) into your vagina and through to your cervix (neck of your womb). He or she will use ultrasound as a guide to put this in the right place. Your doctor will then pass the embryos down the catheter into your womb. You don't normally need sedation for this procedure.
You can go home after both the egg collecting and embryo transfer procedures and don't need to stay in hospital.
IVF treatment process
Are there any complications or risks of my IVF?
As with every procedure, there are complications associated with IVF. Speak to your doctor for more information.
Complications of IVF include possible birth defects in your baby. These can include heart problems and problems with their digestion. Your baby may also be a lower weight than a baby conceived naturally. You can be more likely to give birth to more than one baby (twins, triplets or more) if you have IVF.
Recovering from IVF
You might have some pain and discomfort in your abdomen (tummy) after IVF egg collection. You may have some bleeding from your vagina too. You should recover within one to two days.
You should recover almost straight away after the embryo transfer. However, it's important not to do any strenuous activity for a few days.
How much does IVF cost?
For a guide to what you could pay for an IVF harvest, click here.
What to do now
Once you have decided that you would like to be treated at an HCA hospital, or would like further information, here's what to do next:
- Call one of our advisors on + 44 (0) 20 7079 4399 or complete our web enquiry form.
- Check with your insurance company that your policy covers your treatment, and obtain authorisation.
- Visit or call your GP to obtain a referral letter and then call us to make an appointment to visit your chosen consultant and hospital at a time to suit you.
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