IVF Basics

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Couples seeking infertility procedures often have questions. Whether receiving fertility treatments at home or abroad, understanding the in vitro fertilization process will help couples decide which infertility facilities or services best meet their needs.

One of the most common questions that couples ask is in regard to sperm and/or egg donors, for example, is whether the fertility specialist or facility have photographs of the donors hair color, eye color, height and weight, and other personal data.

While confidentiality is an issue, do prospective IVF parents have a right to know such things? Do you know the processes involved in IVF procedures? Are you familiar with procedures within the facility or lab in regard to embryo classification, or whether eggs are frozen or fresh?

These are just some of the questions a potential couple exploring the topic of IVF may wish to ask. Ask your doctor and/or fertility expert or specialist about any questions you have. They'll be happy to answer as many of them as they can.

Understanding IVF Terms and Procedures
IVF surrogacy is a popular fertility method these days. A surrogate is a woman not related to be infertile couple who carries the egg and sperm of a genetic couple. In this type of scenario, the surrogate is not related to the child in any way. In other cases, the male partner’s sperm may be implemented in a surrogate, producing a child who is genetically related to the male partner and to the surrogate.

At fertility clinics, IVF can be performed with or without ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). This procedure involves the injection of sperm into a mature egg for development. Following the fertilization procedure, the egg is implanted into the mother's womb. ICSI is a common treatment for couples dealing with male infertility issues such as low sperm count. 

Other common questions asked by prospective parents include but are not limited to:

  • How long are potential eggs frozen at a fertility clinic or facility?
  • Is ISCI always done?
  • If a woman does not respond to her treatments, and no eggs are available to continue treatment, what happens?
  • What types of hormonal supplements are used after an embryo transfer?

Such questions may provide slightly different answers, depending on the fertility clinic or facility. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is not always performed. Decisions for such procedures are decided on a case-by-case basis.

So too is the use of fresh or frozen eggs at any given facility and the preferences of the couple. Most IVF egg retrieval procedures (aspiration) take less than 15 minutes. Eggs are fertilized in a laboratory environment, but if sperm or eggs are poor quality, the ICSI procedure may be utilized to enhance fertilization.

In most cases, embryos are cultured in the IVF laboratory for between two and six days.  Leftover embryos are often cryopreserved or frozen for use in future cycles if needed.

When it comes to egg donation (also known as ovum or oocyte donation), individuals chosen as a donors are thoroughly screened for genetically transmissible conditions and/or any infectious diseases. Donors have the choice of revealing information about themselves, or remaining anonymous to recipients.

While waiting for a suitable IVF procedure, women who are infertile may be placed on medications: Lupron to suppress the menstrual cycle, or estrogen patches or pills to stimulate the uterine lining for receipt of an embryo. Again, hormones and/or medications are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Fresh or Frozen?
In most cases of egg donation, eggs are used fresh, as the use of fresh eggs provides greater success rates than frozen eggs. However, leftover fertilized embryos are now commonly frozen, to be implanted at a later date, with high success rates.

Proper timing for implantation of fertilized eggs into a recipient woman's uterus requires careful timing and is critical for successful IVF cycle. Protocols regarding timing differ between egg donation clinics and IVF fertility clinics abroad.

Embryo Grading & Quality
The process of embryo grading and quality of embryos is also extremely important. Embryo grading is typically done on Day 3 and Day 5 of development. However, there are many different types of embryo grading systems between facilities, and each differ in how grades are assigned and whether or not a low number indicates best or worst embryo scenarios.

In most cases, embryos should have divided into two to four cells at the 48-hour mark.  Most preferable however, are embryos that have divided into seven to 10 cells within 72 hours.

In addition to the number of cells, the regularity of cell size is also used to determine cell quality. Preferably, cells should be similar in size or at least close to the same size.  Lastly, a process known as fragmentation, where parts of an embryo is a cells have broken off and separated from the nucleus of the cell, are also used to determine quality. While fragmentation is not necessarily a "bad" thing, embryos with more than a 25% fragmentation rate typically have a low potential for implantation.

When it comes to IVF techniques, procedures, terminology and classification, it's recommended that potential parents do their homework and find out as much about in vitro fertilization procedures as possible.

Choose a fertilization clinics and facilities that have experience in IVF fertilization procedures and techniques. Most of all, don't be afraid to ask questions. For more information about IVF or other fertility treatments and procedures abroad, visit PlacidWay.com, an international medical resource and provider based in Denver, Colorado.

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by: PlacidWay

2012-05-05 / Updated on: 2021-01-08

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