In vitro fertilization
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of assisted reproductive technology (ART), designed to assist couples suffering from infertility problems to conceive. It consists of a series of complex steps that are particularly developed to help men and women with fertility issues. Researchers say that IVF is the most advanced and the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The steps and methods employed in this technology are far more effective than other modes of ART.
Though, IVF is considered to be an effective method its success rates depends on many factors. These include the age of the woman and the nature of infertility. All this would determine the chances of getting pregnant with IVF.
In vitro - meaning
In vitro is a Latin term meaning "in glass". Lab experiments that were involved with development of living organisms were earlier carried out in glass test tubes. These living organisms were cultivated outside the host body inside a test tube. It was from here that the term "in vitro" was used for fertilization of egg and sperm outside the woman's body. Thus, to put it down in common language, the union of the egg and sperm which is facilitated outside the woman's body is termed as in vitro fertilization.
IVF Process in India
A lot of clinical and research data has proved that the number of cases related to infertility is increasing with each passing day. Be it the global scenario or the Indian data, all have one common thing to say that “causes of infertility are on the rise”. Considering India as the destination for getting treated for infertility has many advantages to its credit. Not just the affordability factor, but the treatment itself is carried out by board certified surgeons. In addition, the fertility clinics in India are well equipped with the latest technologies required for successfully conducting in vitro fertilization.
In many instances, it may so happen, that a donor egg or donor sperm would be required during the IVF cycle. In such cases, the fertility clinic you are working with would help you identify the best donor eggs and sperms. The cost for the same would obviously be an addition to the actual cost of IVF, but in India you are sure to get the best price.
Couples from Western countries now choose India as their preferred destination for getting IVF done. The in vitro fertilization cost of the procedure is very affordable as compared to other parts of the world and even the facilities are of world class level.
The IVF treatment would vary with each couple and would also differ from one fertility clinic to another. However, in general the treatment would by and large remain the same. A step by step procedure involved in IVF method is explained below:
- Monthly cycle scheduled: In this, your monthly cycle is rescheduled according to your IVF cycle. So the day you get your periods is the officially the first day of your IVF treatment.
- You are put on fertility drugs that would stimulate your ovaries to produce more quality eggs. With more of quality eggs being produced, the success percentage of In vitro fertilization increase. Throughout this process, the ovaries are monitored with regular ultrasound tests. This helps the doctor understand the functioning of the ovaries with the fertility drugs.
- After this, you are prepared for the egg retrieval procedure. This procedure takes about 20 – 40 minutes and you are allowed to go back home the same day. The process of egg retrieval is done using a Transvaginal aspiration method. In this method, you are given a sedative and put to sleep. Thereafter, the eggs are retrieved using a hollow needle which is inserted through the vagina to reach the ovaries.
- Following this procedure, all preparations for fertilization of the egg and sperm are done. The sperm is washed and separated from the semen sample. The egg and the sperm are kept for fertilization in a Petri dish and the cells are allowed to grow under controlled settings.
- The cells grow in size and number and become group of small cells. These are referred to as an embryo. This is the blastocyst stage, wherein the cells grow in size and number after 4 – 5 days incubation period.
- After this procedure, the doctors select the best embryo to be transferred to the womb. A new system of grading has been developed to judge the quality of the oocyte and embryo. This method of grading was first developed in the year 2009.
- The embryo is then transferred to the womb. Certain fertility clinics think it is wise to transfer at least 2 embryos. Countries like Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand follow such a kind of practice. If the embryo implants itself correctly in the womb, then you should experience the preliminary signs of pregnancy within a few weeks.
Infertility and In Vitro Fertilization in India
Gone are the days when talking about infertility and its methods of treatment were a matter of shame. The current scenario now speaks of a different development - due to advancements in the technology and the rise in the cases of infertility, couples are ready to face challenges and undertake the treatment of IVF. Infertility and IVF are no longer discussed behind closed doors. Infertility is on the rise these days, and couples wish to try all possible methods to get pregnant. Of the various methods to achieve a successful pregnancy, in vitro fertilization is the one that has many success stories to tell. Infertility restricts the ability of the woman to get pregnant through natural means. There are some factors that prevent the fertilization of the egg and sperm to take place inside the woman’s body. In such conditions, the method of IVF becomes helpful. In this method, the process of fertilization takes place outside the woman’s body under laboratory settings.
The union of egg and sperm is facilitated in a Petri dish under controlled conditions. When the cells grow and form a group of cells known as blastocyst then it is transferred to the woman’s womb. Following this procedure, if the embryo gets attached to the wall of the uterus, then the woman would experience pregnancy symptoms.
In Vitro Cost
In vitro fertilization is an expensive affair and usually is opted as the last resort when all other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The actual cost of IVF will depend on various factors. However, the average cost has been estimated to be $2,300 - $2,500. In many circumstances, the price can even go beyond $2,500 due to certain additional tests or blood related work. It also needs mentioning that, this cost does not include the cost of medications and ultrasound examinations. Generally the fertility clinics do not always mention these while giving the price quote of a single IVF cycle to the couples. It is therefore wise to ask the clinics to provide details of the total cost of the cycle. Along with the medications, blood work, fertility drugs, ultrasound examinations and the cycle the amount is certain to reach $2,500.
If the couples wish to get a frozen embryo transfer then the cost is particularly cheaper than the fresh embryo transfer. The cost of frozen embryo transfer has been calculated.
Fertilization and Embryo Transfer
Embryo transfer is a vital and the final step in IVF procedures. The stage of embryo transfer would only take place when the fertilization of the egg and sperm has been successful. For in vitro fertilization to occur, the eggs and sperms are kept in a Petri dish and incubated for some days. After about 3 - 4 days, the cells grow in size and number and form a group known as a blastocyst.
If the process of in vitro fertilization was a success, then the embryo is transferred to the woman,s womb after about 3 days. In many cases, the embryologist can reject the embryos if the growth of the cells is not acceptable and is not even. They can also be rejected if the degree of fragmentation is also not up to the mark. In order to achieve a successful pregnancy, more than 3 embryos are transferred to the womb, hoping that at least one of them would successfully attach to the wall of the uterus. The transfer of more than 1 embryo is medically accepted to achieve successful pregnancy rates. The exact number of embryos to be transferred greatly depends on the growth of the cells and the age of the women.
However, in many cases it may so happen that more than 1 embryo could attach to the uterine wall and the concerned woman is then at the risk of carrying multiple pregnancies. In such situations, there are several medical concerns associated with this. The risk of carrying multiple pregnancies has medical risks, financial burden and emotional considerations as well. The decision of whether or not to continue with multiple pregnancies becomes a matter of emotional burden for the couples.
All measures are taken during the IVF cycle to avoid such circumstances; yet some of the couples do have to face the agonizing reality of multiple pregnancies.