How it works and how much it costs: 6 basic questions about IVF answered
In an ideal world, probably everyone would meet their partner at an ideal age... and go on to have 2.4 kids without any problems.
But of course, things are rarely so straightforward.
And if reckon that IVF is something that you might want to explore - we have answered some basic questions that you might now be considering...
1) What exactly is IVF?
IVG stands for In Vitro Fertilisation; the process by which a woman's eggs are fertilised outside her body in a lab. The resulting embryos are transferred back into her uterus a few days later, with the intention of creating a pregnancy.
2) What does IVF involve?
It involves monitoring and stimulating the woman's ovulation, removing the eggs, fertilising them with sperm, then transferring the eggs back into the uterus. This is the process:
To stimulate a woman's ovaries, a gynaecologist will administer medication in order to encourage the growth of follicles on the ovaries, which hopefully will contain an egg. The number of follicles that develop can vary from woman to woman, but generally ten is the number that can develop. After this, the final step of stimulation is to give the woman a hormone injection that will mimic the natural effects of ovulation.
The egg removal is done through a small out patient operation. A trans vaginal ultrasound probe is used to map out the ovaries. A needle is then attached to the probe and passed through the vaginal wall to reach the follicles. The fluid from the follicles is taken and then examined in a lab to detect the presence of an egg. After identification, the eggs are taken and stored in a special culture.
A semen sample is taken from the participating male. The most mobile sperm is extracted and added to the dish containing the eggs. They are then stored together over night. In the morning they're checked to see which eggs have been fertilised.
The best of the fertilised embryos are selected and then returned to the woman a few days later.
A catheter is inserted through the cervix to place the embryos in the uterine cavity.
3) Who is IVF it suitable for?
It is recommended for women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, and sometimes in cases of unexplained infertility.
4) How successful is IVF?
This can vary from woman to woman, but according to the SIMS IVF clinic in Clonskeagh in Dublin, on average 28 percent of women become pregnant after the first cycle of IVF.
5) Why does it not always work?
The age of the woman being treated is certainly a factor - a 30-year-old will have a greater chance of success than a 40-year-old, for example. The quality of embryos has to be considered too; sometimes embryos have the likes of chromosomal abnormalities which make them less viable. Furthermore, not all women respond in the same way to stimulation and not everyone has a large number of eggs to harvest. Otherwise implantation issues are fairly common.
6) How much can IVF cost?
This varies from clinic to clinic, but the price of IVF starts at around €4,500.