How will you handle a multiple pregnancy? If more than one embryo is transferred to your uterus, IVF can result in a multiple pregnancy — which poses health risks for you and your babies. In some cases, fetal reduction can be used to help a woman deliver fewer babies with lower health risks. Pursuing fetal reduction, however, is a major decision with ethical, emotional and psychological consequences.
During the second half of your menstrual cycle, the hormone progesterone kicks in to help prepare the lining of your uterus for a fertilized egg. If the egg isn't fertilized and doesn't implant, it disintegrates, progesterone levels fall, and about 12 to 16 days later, the egg -- along with blood and tissues from the lining of the uterus -- is shed from the body. That process is menstruation. It usually lasts 3 to 7 days.
Infertility is, in all its forms, a most private, hidden anguish. Nobody wants to discuss the finer points of their reproductive system in public. And the desire to have a child can, if thwarted, be so overwhelming that just a glimpse from a car window of someone with a BabyBjorn can be enough to produce such a flood of tears that you have to pull over. How can you possibly articulate that level of pain to the casual inquirer?
Very slight elements of risk are associated with any medical intervention but for IVF the most notable risk in the past has been multiple births. The impact of multiple births on birth weight, premature delivery, and post-natal complications is well known. This is largely due to the practice over the past 30 years of transferring two or more embryos during IVF. Thanks to PGT-A testing and Single Embryo Transfer (SET), however, doctors can now feel confident about transferring just one normal embryo. At RMA, we have established SET as the standard of care going forward. With SET, the risk of multiple births is drastically reduced.
One, two or three IVF treatments are government subsidised for women who are younger than 40 and have no children. The rules for how many treatments are subsidised, and the upper age limit for the women, vary between different county councils. Single women are treated, and embryo adoption is allowed. There are also private clinics that offer the treatment for a fee.
Step on the scale. Have you put on some extra pounds since your last baby was on board? Or maybe you’ve lost a lot of weight (because after all, who has time to eat when you’re running after a little one)? Your weight can impact your fertility, so getting as close as possible to a healthy BMI can also help get you closer to that second pregnancy you’re hoping for.
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During the selection and transfer phases, many embryos may be discarded in favour of others. This selection may be based on criteria such as genetic disorders or the sex. One of the earliest cases of special gene selection through IVF was the case of the Collins family in the 1990s, who selected the sex of their child. The ethic issues remain unresolved as no consensus exists in science, religion, and philosophy on when a human embryo should be recognised as a person. For those who believe that this is at the moment of conception, IVF becomes a moral question when multiple eggs are fertilised, begin development, and only a few are chosen for implantation.
For women, intake of antioxidants (such as N-acetyl-cysteine, melatonin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, myo-inositol, zinc or selenium) has not been associated with a significantly increased live birth rate or clinical pregnancy rate in IVF according to Cochrane reviews. The review found that oral antioxidants given to men in couples with male factor or unexplained subfertility may improve live birth rates, but more evidence is needed.
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Egg Development – This step is either part of the woman’s natural egg development or stimulated with medications and lasts roughly 5-14 days. Once your follicles are optimal size, a trigger medication may be given to finalize egg maturation and trigger ovulation. This phase of egg development may or may not be accompanied by ultrasound and bloodwork monitoring.
Another major cause of infertility in women may be the inability to ovulate. Malformation of the eggs themselves may complicate conception. For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome is when the eggs only partially develop within the ovary and there is an excess of male hormones. Some women are infertile because their ovaries do not mature and release eggs. In this case synthetic FSH by injection or Clomid (Clomiphene citrate) via a pill can be given to stimulate follicles to mature in the ovaries.
Risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS can happen when women respond too well to fertility drugs and produce too many eggs. About 10 to 20 percent of women who take gonadotropins develop a mild form of OHSS, a condition marked by weight gain and a full, bloated feeling. Some also have shortness of breath, dizziness, pelvic pain, nausea, and vomiting. If you have OHSS, your ovaries swell to several times the normal size and produce fluid that accumulates in your abdominal cavity. Normally this resolves itself with careful monitoring by a physician and bed rest. But in rare cases it's life threatening, and you may have to be hospitalized for more intensive monitoring or treatment.
In a lab, your eggs are mixed with sperm cells from your partner or a donor — this is called insemination. The eggs and sperm are stored together in a special container, and fertilization happens. For sperm that have lower motility (don’t swim as well), they may be injected directly into the eggs to promote fertilization. As the cells in the fertilized eggs divide and become embryos, people who work at the lab monitor the progress.
Each case of infertility is different from the other. Hence it is extremely crucial, to be honest with your doctor about all your symptoms and problems. The doctor needs to know all the details regarding your reproductive health including any previous miscarriages, or abortions if any. This helps in diagnosis and formulating a correct treatment for infertility.
Luteal support is the administration of medication, generally progesterone, progestins, hCG, or GnRH agonists, and often accompanied by estradiol, to increase the success rate of implantation and early embryogenesis, thereby complementing and/or supporting the function of the corpus luteum. A Cochrane review found that hCG or progesterone given during the luteal phase may be associated with higher rates of live birth or ongoing pregnancy, but that the evidence is not conclusive. Co-treatment with GnRH agonists appears to improve outcomes, by a live birth rate RD of +16% (95% confidence interval +10 to +22%). On the other hand, growth hormone or aspirin as adjunctive medication in IVF have no evidence of overall benefit.
In order for pregnancy to happen, sperm has to meet the egg. This normally takes place at the end of the fallopian tube, and this is called fertilization. There are a number of obstacles that can prevent this from happening, and the process itself even in healthy young fertile women is very complex- hence the low pregnancy rate each month. Obstacles such as cycle timing, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis must be overcome to achieve a pregnancy. Timing is often the most common obstacle to conception. What does it mean for you when common causes of infertility are ruled out and you’re told you have unexplained infertility? It should mean a time of hope.