IVF, or in vitro fertilisation, is the best chance many couples or individuals have of becoming pregnant. Depending on your individual needs, I may recommend IVF treatment to help you fall pregnant if you have any one of a number of fertility problems or conditions. We can also use IVF in cases of sperm abnormalities, endometriosis, tubal damage, unsuccessful ovulation induction or unexplained infertility.
How does the IVF process work?
During in vitro fertilisation, the sperm fertilises the egg in the laboratory, rather than in the woman’s fallopian tube. The egg is placed together with many thousands of sperm (typically 100,000) and fertilisation occurs over a number of hours in a culture dish maintained under ideal conditions in the laboratory.
The fertilised embryo grows in the laboratory for two to five days, before it is transferred into the woman’s uterus in a simple procedure called embryo transfer. This procedure involves a very fine tube being passed through the cervix and into the uterine cavity.
Additional embryos are usually stored by freezing them for use in later treatments if needed, or for future children.
If there are issues with sperm quality, I may recommend intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). This is a procedure that is conducted as part of IVF, which involves a single sperm being injected into each egg. As the human egg is one-tenth of a millimetre in diameter and the sperm 100 times smaller, ICSI is a very delicate procedure performed by highly skilled embryologists using a very sophisticated microscope.
We can also use ICSI when sperm have been obtained directly from the testes – after vasectomy reversal or in cases of absent vas deferens, for example.
ICSI has not been shown to increase fertilisation rates when the sperm assessment is normal; it is used when there are problems with the sperm profile.
The normal fertilisation rates with IVF or ICSI indicate that for every ten mature eggs obtained and combined with the sperm, approximately five or six will fertilise normally.
Find out more about IVF and ICSI treatment with Melbourne IVF