In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) Treatment
IVF treatment helps couples, single women and same-sex couples to conceive, who have had difficulty in doing so.
The eggs and sperm are combined in petri dishes and placed inside an incubator in a laboratory to fertilise. After two-to-five days in an incubator, one or two of the resulting embryos are then transferred (Link Embryo Transfer FAQs) into the woman’s uterus, hopefully where they will then implant and develop as they would in a natural pregnancy.
IVF is particularly applicable to women whose fallopian tubes are absent or damaged. It is also appropriate for patients suffering from endometriosis and unexplained infertility. You can learn about the whole IVF patient journey here.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Occasionally, the sperm needs some extra help to fertilise an egg, in which case we might recommend Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI). With this technique, a single sperm is injected directly into each egg. Although this does not force fertilisation to occur, it can help the process for some couples, for example where there are low numbers of sperm, where sperm motility is low, or where fertilisation has failed to occur in the past with IVF treatment.
Long and Short Protocol IVF
The long protocol in IVF treatment is the most commonly used. It starts with suppressing your hormones so that we can take control of your cycle. This process is called down-regulation. In this clinic we use a nasal spray or injection (gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonist) to achieve this. Following on from this, a hormone injection is prescribed to stimulate the ovaries to produce follicles. The aim is to produce mature eggs suitable for fertilisation.
The alternative method is the short protocol. This protocol may be suitable for certain groups of patients. This protocol does not involve the down-regulation phase. The remainder of the processes are similar between the two protocols.
Embryos are monitored carefully and graded as they develop, and usually transferred 2-3 days after egg collection. Blastocyst culture involves allowing embryos to mature further (beyond ‘day 3’) in laboratory conditions before attempting to transfer them. In natural conception, embryos would not normally reach the uterus until day 5; this is called the blastocyst stage of development.
Blastocyst culture is available in our laboratory, and each patient’s cycle is assessed to see whether blastocyst culture is recommended. Generally, if 4 or more good quality embryos are available on day 3, blastocyst culture may be recommended. Blastocyst culture is available to all patients at an extra charge, please see our costs page for details.
To learn more about any of our services and fertility treatment options, or to book an appointment with one of our consultants, please contact us.