In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF involves fertilization by manually combining sperm and eggs in a laboratory culture dish. Once fertilization occurs, the resulting embryos are then placed in the uterus.
There are many benefits to using in vitro fertilization. IVF treats infertility in couple where:
• The woman has damaged or blocked fallopian tubes.
• The man has impaired sperm movement (motility).
• The man has a decreased total sperm count.
• The woman has a history of fallopian tubes removed.
• The couple has unexplained infertility.
• The woman has premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids, or other structural disorders.
Couples choosing IVF enjoy many benefits, such as:
• Giving hope – Couples who suffer with fertility problems often feel as if there is no hope. IVF can offer a chance to conceive when conventional measures fail. The fertilization takes place outside the body, so structural problems are not an issue. IVF offers a solution to bypass the need for the male sperm to have to navigate the damaged or blocked female reproductive tract.
• Increased opportunities – IVF therapy allows the use of egg donors and sperm donors, is the couple requires this. Men with defective sperm or women who have aging eggs now have an option to use other people’s eggs and sperm. IVF allows menopausal women to carry a child, and sperm can be extracted from the testicles when necessary.
• Healthiest embryos are used – The embryologist can select the hardiest, healthiest embryos following fertilization. The laboratory uses a grading system so the best ones are used. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) helps couples wishing to avoid passing chromosomal abnormalities and genetic disorder to their children.
• High success rates – IVF has the highest success rate of any ART procedure. While IVF is not right for every couple, the cycle can always be repeated when one does not work.
As with any medical procedure, there are some side effects to consider. Most women can resume normal activities the following day, but a few experience unwanted discomfort. Also, fertility medications produce side effects. Side effects include:
• Mild cramping
• Passing clear or blood-tinged vaginal discharge
• Breast tenderness
• Mood swings
• Hot flashes
There are some risks to consider. Following a cycle of IVF, call the fertility clinic if you experience:
• Heavy vaginal bleeding
• Pelvic pain
• Temperature of 100.5 °F (38 °C) or higher
• Blood in the urine
Fertility medications used during IVF may cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), the symptoms of this include bloating, abdominal pain, abdominal pressure, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, decreased urinary output, faintness, and rapid weight gain.
When more than one embryo is transferred into the uterus, there is a chance of having multiples. This increases the risk of infant low birth weight and premature delivery.
ART is costly, and involves a significant emotional and physical commitment by the couple. When IVF is unsuccessful, there is much psychological distress. In addition, one cycle of IVF costs around $15,000, depending on what all is involved in the process.