In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common form of the assisted reproduction techniques that are used to treat infertility and assist conception. During an IVF treatment, a number of different protocols can be used for the stimulation of the ovaries and the creation of multiple follicles instead of just one that occurs during a natural menstrual cycle.
The ovarian stimulation is monitored via serial ultrasounds and when the number and size of follicles permits the oocytes (eggs) are collected from the ovaries during a procedure called oocyte retrieval (egg collection). The oocytes are then fertilized by the sperm via IVF,ICSI or IMSI. Subsequently the fertilized eggs (embryos) are allowed to grow in the lab and are transferred in the uterus 2, 3 or 5 days later. A cycle of IVF takes about two weeks and is the most effective form of assisted reproduction. The procedure can be done using the female partner’s own eggs and male partner’s own sperm or it may involve eggs, sperm or embryos from an anonymous donor.
IVF is often offered as a primary treatment for infertility in women around or past the age of 40 with no other infertility factors (unexplained/ age related infertility) due to the higher success rates compared to other assisted reproduction techniques.
However IVF is indicated when there are certain medical conditions. It may be the only or optimal option in cases of:
- Fallopian tube damage or blockage or previous tubal sterilization.
- Anovulation or various hormonal and ovulation disorders.
- Premature ovarian failure.
- Impaired sperm production or function associated with male partner infertility.
- Unexplained infertility.
- Genetic disorders.
- Fertility preservation for cancer or other health conditions.