In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an infertility treatment that involves egg fertilization by sperm outside the body. IVF treatment was developed as a medical procedure for treating infertility but has also been applied to embryonic development and disease research. You may read more on IVF treatment over here.
IVF begins with the stimulation of a woman’s ovaries to produce multiple eggs. After about two weeks, eggs are retrieved from the woman during an outpatient procedure under anesthesia.
With the use of a tiny needle attached to a suction device, eggs are obtained directly from the ovaries through the vagina and cervix without incisions or cutting into the abdomen. Using very thin, flexible tubing inserted through the cervix, each egg is gently aspirated from its follicle and deposited in a dish. The dish containing the egg is then placed in an incubator for several hours while sperm is prepared and washed.
The eggs are examined under a microscope to determine if any eggs have been fertilized by sperm cells. In preparation for the embryo transfer, the woman takes hormones to promote the development of an adequate lining in her uterus.
After approximately two additional weeks, embryos develop from fertilized eggs into very early-stage human beings called blastocysts which consist of 60-100 cells each. These embryos have not yet attached themselves to the uterine wall but float freely within a fluid-filled bubble called a blastocyst cavity.
For successful implantation, embryos must be transferred so that they are surrounded by the uterine lining cells. The embryo transfer usually takes place about 2-5 days after fertilization of the eggs, when embryos are at the 6 to 8 cell stage.
When is IVF Treatment Necessary?
IVF treatment may be recommended if a woman has not become pregnant after one year of frequent unprotected intercourse or an inability to have intercourse because of male infertility, blocked fallopian tubes, certain uterine abnormalities, repeated spontaneous abortions (miscarriages), or lack of ovulation due to polycystic ovarian disease (PCOS), thyroid gland failure, low estradiol level or other causes. It may also be used for women who have had their Fallopian tubes surgically removed and want children related to them.
Infertile couples with known infertility factors may opt for IVF treatments rather than other infertility therapies. Women who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can undergo the procedure using an interpreter.
What is the Right Age for IVF?
Studies have suggested that pregnancies resulting from fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), appear to be at increased risk of congenital disabilities compared to spontaneous conception. However, this risk varies according to the treatment cycle used and the age.
For this reason, more and more couples are opting to try IVF at an older age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that women undergo fertility testing by the time they reach the age of 35, as a woman’s chances of conceiving begin to decline after she hits her mid-30s sharply; however, it is important to note that there is no established “best” age for IVF treatment as there are many factors such as cost and success rate of each individual cycle that need to be considered. On the baseline though, women who are in their 20s or 30s do experience higher success rates with IVF.
What should you know Before Opting for IVF?
There are significant emotional and psychological risks involved in IVF, which can be stressful for both the mother and father. It is important to go into the process with realistic expectations, especially if conceiving through IVF is necessary because of an egg or sperm deficiency.
One of the most successful ways to ensure that your emotions stay in check is to prepare yourself ahead of time, particularly by educating yourself on how IVF works and what treatments entail. You may also wish to work with a counselor who has experience helping infertile couples. It is equally important for men to understand what will be required of them to increase their chances of success during treatment.
Importantly, the facility where the treatment will be conducted should be able to satisfy your medical needs from beginning to end, from the initial consultation through pregnancy tests and childbirth. Make sure you are comfortable with all aspects of their services, including other couples in the waiting room, which can sometimes put you on the edge. A few more things you may want to consider when choosing a facility include;
- Do they offer genetic testing? This is usually a standard procedure but a foolproof way to ensure that you will have a healthy baby.
- What success rates do they have? This can be found on their website or by calling them up. Some clinics keep failure rates low by transferring multiple embryos at once or even freezing embryos for later use if necessary, which means that “viable” embryos may not survive the transfer into the uterus.
- What kind of semen analysis do they conduct? The facility should give semen samples through masturbation rather than a surgical extraction as a much larger volume is needed for this test. A better semen analysis gives the couple more information about which treatments are most suitable for pregnancy, including IUI or IVF, intrauterine insemination (IUI), or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- Do they have a ‘cryobank’ or sperm bank? The couple may need this for future pregnancies.
- What are the costs involved? A fertility clinic should be able to give you an estimate of what all the treatments and procedures will cost after your initial consultation based on their success rates, experience, reputation, and local fee structure. They should make sure that you know exactly how much money needs to be paid for each treatment before they perform it.
Ideally, there is no perfect age for IVF but one thing that’s for sure is that the younger you are the higher your chances for conceiving are. The ideal candidate for this procedure is someone who has gone through the complete family planning stage and failed to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term.
Women or men, who are willing to undergo surgery, blood tests, hormone injections, anesthesia, etc., can opt for this procedure in their 20s. This option should only be opted when all other means of natural conception fail at least once. If you need more information on what age is right for IVF, please call us now to schedule a complimentary appointment. Call: +65 6474 3900
Advanced Centre for Reproductive Medicine – OBGYN | Gynaecologist | Urogynaecology | Female IVF Specialist
6A Napier Road #05-35, Singapore 258500
+65 6474 3900