Couple_01Most people have heard the term “IVF” in relation to conception and fertility; many of us even know that it stands for “in-vitro fertilisation”. But how many of us really know what the process involves?

Here, the experts from IVF Chelsea explain what is involved in an IVF treatment cycle.

1. Ovary stimulation

The first step in the IVF process is to stop natural ovulation in the female partner and to inject her daily with hormones that will stimulate the ovaries to “over-produce” eggs. Because more eggs are produced, this then gives us the best chance possible of fertilising one.

You will also need to undergo regular scans of the ovaries, to ensure that they are producing enough eggs and that the eggs have reached the correct level of maturity before collection.

2. Egg collection

Once the eggs have reached maturity – usually after around 11 days of hormone injections – we will the prepare to collect the eggs. This procedure is performed under sedation or anaesthetic, and a needle is used to aspirate “suck” the eggs from the fallopian tubes.

3. Fertilisation

After the eggs have been harvested they will be taken to the lab, where they will be put into contact with your partner’s sperm to facilitate fertilisation. There are two ways of doing this: in traditional IVF treatment, the egg and sperm are placed in a petridish together and left to fertilise by themselves.

In ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), the sperm is actually injected into the egg, to give it a better chance of fertilisation. This is generally used when the male partner has a very low sperm count, or the sperm has low motility.

4. Embryo transfer

Once fertilised, the embryos are left in the laboratory for between two and five days to mature. You will then be called into the clinic for the embryo transfer. This experience is much like a smear test and does not require anaesthetic – the doctor will use a fine catheter to pass the embryos into the womb.

Once the embryos have been transferred, all that is left is to wait and find out whether the embryos have implanted and pregnancy has been achieved.

Of course, these are the practical details of IVF. The emotional side of things is another story all together, and here at Chelsea IVF our staff are on hand to support you through the process, every step of the way.