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In Vitro Fertilization, or more commonly known as IVF, is a more complicated procedure than artificial insemination. During this procedure, eggs and sperm are collected outside of the body. Once the eggs and sperm are placed together and start to form into an embryo or embryos in a lab environment, they are then placed into the uterus of a female recipient. Being an expensive and extremely complicated procedure, only a limited numbers of infertile couples are able to benefit from this lengthy and sometimes quite demanding process.
Despite the low number of couples opting for In Vitro fertilization, it is responsible for about 200,000 successful births since the 1980s. It is also a procedure that follows other steps to treating infertility, and is used mostly when other methods such as fertility drugs, artificial insemination or surgery do not work.
This procedure may help couples that suffer from:
• Ovulation problems
• Low sperm count
• Low sperm survival rate
• Uterus or fallopian tube problems
In Vitro Fertilization Treatment Procedure
When beginning In Vitro fertilization, a patient is injected with hormones that help the body produce multiple eggs each month, instead of just one, which is usual. After hormones begin to increase in production, tests will be performed to determine whether they are ready to be retrieved for the procedure.
Before the eggs are retrieved, patients are given a medical injection that will start the process of ovulation. The eggs must be removed just before they leave the follicles of the ovaries to ensure they develop normally. Blood tests or ultrasounds are typically performed by a doctor to make sure the eggs are at the proper stage of development prior to removal.
Patients are given a pain medication during the process, as well as the choice of being mildly sedated or given full anesthesia. Once the patient is sedated, the doctor will use an ultrasound to locate the follicles in the ovary and remove the eggs with a hollow needle. The entire procedure may last anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
At the same time, the patient’s partner will donate sperm. Immediately after the eggs are retrieved, the sperm will be mixed with them in a laboratory. The fertilized eggs may remain in the clinic for up to five days until they reach a blastocyst stage. Once the eggs are ready, they are transferred into the uterus via a catheter. Many experts suggest adding more than one embryo to ensure the chance of pregnancy; however that often results in a multiple pregnancy.
After the procedure, the patient lies in bed for about six hours and is then discharged. Two weeks later, a pregnancy test can be performed to determine if the procedure was successful.
Benefits of In Vitro Fertilization
In Vitro fertilization is an option for any couple that has been unsuccessful with other methods. Embryos that are not used may also be frozen and used later, which can save money if the first attempt does not result in a pregnancy.
The In Vitro fertilization procedure is costly, but also depends on where it is done, which medications are necessary, how many cycles need to be attempted, and how much medical insurance will cover. In the United States, the average cost of one cycle may reach upward to roughly $12,400. The same procedure in the Czech Republic costs around $4,000, while Thailand facilities offer the same procedures for about $4,500.
Choosing a Fertility Clinic
Since this procedure is time intensive and expensive, it is very important to find a reputable fertility clinic. Research prospective clinics and determine how many successful procedures have taken place there and use that information to help potential clients make a decision. While the success rate is not the only positive indication for a fertility treatment abroad or domestic, it should at least be above the national average.
Check the clinic's ethics and quality control procedures to prevent legal disputes or mistakes in the laboratory. Understand the technology that is used by each clinic and whether it is followed by ethical guidelines, as well as making sure the patient has ultimate control in the situation.
A clinic that has a variety of infertility treatments and a solid knowledge of the newest technology is a wise choice. Physicians should be registered and belong to domestic organizations or associations in their country of origin, or even hold international licensing documents.
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