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.
Women are born with about 1 million to 2 million eggs but release only 300 to 400 through ovulation during their lifetimes. Usually, you release just one each month. The egg travels along one of the two fallopian tubes that connect your ovaries to your uterus. If the timing is right, sperm may fertilize it on its way to the uterus. If fertilization doesn't happen within 24 hours of the egg leaving the ovary, the egg dissolves. Sperm can live for about 3 to 5 days, so knowing when you are ovulating can help you and your partner plan sex for when you're most likely to conceive.
Theoretically, IVF could be performed by collecting the contents from a woman's fallopian tubes or uterus after natural ovulation, mixing it with sperm, and reinserting the fertilised ova into the uterus. However, without additional techniques, the chances of pregnancy would be extremely small. The additional techniques that are routinely used in IVF include ovarian hyperstimulation to generate multiple eggs, ultrasound-guided transvaginal oocyte retrieval directly from the ovaries, co-incubation of eggs and sperm, as well as culture and selection of resultant embryos before embryo transfer into a uterus.
The first successful birth of a child after IVF treatment, Louise Brown, occurred in 1978. Louise Brown was born as a result of natural cycle IVF where no stimulation was made. The procedure took place at Dr Kershaw's Cottage Hospital (now Dr Kershaw's Hospice) in Royton, Oldham, England. Robert G. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010, the physiologist who co-developed the treatment together with Patrick Steptoe and embryologist Jean Purdy; Steptoe and Purdy were not eligible for consideration as the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously.
When you know your menstrual cycle, you improve your chances of getting pregnant. The first phase starts with the first day of bleeding during your period. Your body releases hormones, like follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), that make the eggs inside your ovaries grow. Between days 2 and 14, those hormones also help thicken the lining of your uterus to get ready for a fertilized egg. This is called the follicular stage.
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.
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.
Certain kinds of IVF, in particular ICSI (first applied in 1991) and blastocyst transfer (first applied in 1984) have been shown to lead to distortions in the sex ratio at birth. ICSI leads to slightly more female births (51.3% female) while blastocyst transfer leads to significantly more boys (56.1% male) being born. Standard IVF done at the second or third day leads to a normal sex ratio.
If a physician believes infertility is a concern, a number of tests will be administered. For women, these may include ovulation testing, ovarian reserve testing, hormone testing, and hysterosalpingography (X-rays of the fallopian tubes) or other imaging tests. Assessing male infertility involves semen analysis, which examines the number of sperm, as well as their motility and morphology (shape). Other tests for men may include hormonal and genetic testing, testicular biopsy, and additional imaging.
Alana Stewart, who was conceived using donor sperm, began an online forum for donor children called AnonymousUS in 2010. The forum welcomes the viewpoints of anyone involved in the IVF process. Olivia Pratten, a donor-conceived Canadian, sued the province of British Columbia for access to records on her donor father's identity in 2008. "I'm not a treatment, I'm a person, and those records belong to me," Pratten said. In May 2012, a court ruled in Pratten's favour, agreeing that the laws at the time discriminated against donor children and making anonymous sperm and egg donation in British Columbia illegal.
IVF using no drugs for ovarian hyperstimulation was the method for the conception of Louise Brown. This method can be successfully used when women want to avoid taking ovarian stimulating drugs with its associated side-effects. HFEA has estimated the live birth rate to be approximately 1.3% per IVF cycle using no hyperstimulation drugs for women aged between 40–42.
Ovulation induction (in the sense of medical treatment aiming for the development of one or two ovulatory follicles) is an alternative for women with anovulation or oligoovulation, since it is less expensive and more easy to control. It generally involves antiestrogens such as clomifene citrate or letrozole, and is followed by natural or artificial insemination.
The diagnosis is one of exclusion — that is, one which is made only after all the existing tests have been performed and their results found to be normal. This is why the frequency of this diagnosis will depend upon how many tests are done by the clinic — the fewer the tests, the more frequent this diagnosis. And the better the tests, the more likely you are getting a diagnosis instead of being told it's "unexplained."
There are multiple strategies for causing ovulation in clomid or letrozole resistant patients. Some of these include adding medications such as dexamethasone or metformin to the treatment regimen. Another approach is changing to gonadotropin injections. Rather than tricking the brain into sending a stronger signal to the ovaries to cause follicle recruitment, gonadotropins directly stimulate the ovary to recruit multiple follicles.
As a result, most patients need to undergo multiple cycles, and as we pointed out in a another lesson, no cycle is as likely to succeed as the first one. Below is data out of the UK published in the Journal of The American Medical Association that illustrates that after a few cycles most younger patients succeed with IVF but that is not necessarily true for older patients.
Availability of IVF in England is determined by Clinical commissioning groups. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends up to 3 cycles of treatment for women under 40 years old with minimal success conceiving after 2 years of unprotected sex. Cycles will not be continued for women who are older than 40 years old. CCGs in Essex, Bedfordshire and Somerset have reduced funding to one cycle, or none, and it is expected that reductions will become more widespread. Funding may be available in "exceptional circumstances" – for example if a male partner has a transmittable infection or one partner is affected by cancer treatment. According to the campaign group Fertility Fairness at the end of 2014 every CCG in England was funding at least one cycle of IVF". Prices paid by the NHS in England varied between under £3,000 to more than £6,000 in 2014/5. In February 2013, the cost of implementing the NICE guidelines for IVF along with other treatments for infertility was projected to be £236,000 per year per 100,000 members of the population.
3-6 months of treatment with Clomid pills (clomiphene citrate) might improve fertility by as much as 2 times as compared to no treatment. This is a very low level infertility treatment. Infertility specialists do not usually recommend Clomid treatment( without insemination) for unexplained infertility for women over the age of about 35. Most fertility specialists do not use it (without IUI) on any couples with unexplained infertility. If a woman is already having regular periods and ovulating one egg every month, giving Clomid, which will probably stimulate the ovaries to release 2 or 3 eggs per month (instead of one) is not really fixing anything that is broken - and is not likely to be successful.
A genetic disorder. If you or your partner is at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to your child, you may be candidates for preimplantation genetic testing — a procedure that involves IVF. After the eggs are harvested and fertilized, they're screened for certain genetic problems, although not all genetic problems can be found. Embryos that don't contain identified problems can be transferred to the uterus.