Infertility can be a financially and emotionally difficult road to navigate, and the longing to have a child is a powerful drive for many couples. In vitro fertilization (IVF) offers a ray of hope for people struggling to get pregnant, but like any medical treatment, it’s essential to know the whys and hows of it.
In this article, we’ll talk about what IVF is, how it works, and what you should know before deciding to go this route with your partner and your fertility specialist.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of fertility treatment that involves retrieving a woman’s eggs from her ovaries, fertilizing them with sperm, and transferring the fertilized egg back into her uterine cavity. IVF isn’t painful, and the cycle is quick, taking about four weeks or the length of a normal ovulation cycle.
IVF is recommended for the following patients:
- Men with abnormal sperm quality
- Women with blocked fallopian tubes
- Women experiencing severe endometriosis
- Women experiencing ovulatory dysfunction
- Couples who have experienced several failures in IUI treatment
- Couples who are in their old age
- Unexplained infertility
IVF has a high success rate of up to 45-50%, and it is one of the most commonly sought-after treatments by couples experiencing infertility.
How does one’s IVF journey begin? A step-by-step process
Ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval
A woman’s ovaries are stimulated using fertility medication, with the aim of producing multiple eggs to increase the chances of successful fertilization. After this period of stimulation, the eggs are retrieved. This procedure is usually performed under anesthesia to ensure comfort.
Simultaneous with egg retrieval, the partner’s sperm is collected and processed. Sperm quality greatly influences the success of fertilization.
Fertilization and embryo culture
The retrieved eggs and collected sperm are ‘combined’ in a controlled laboratory environment. Fertilization occurs here, and the resulting embryos are carefully monitored as they develop.
Once the embryos reach a certain stage of development, one or more selected embryos are transferred back into the woman’s uterus. Any embryos in excess can also be frozen for future use.
How much does IVF cost?
One IVF cycle can range from P300,000 to P500,000 for an average patient, including hospital charges, medication, and doctors’ professional fees. However, IVF does not guarantee pregnancy. In the event of an unsuccessful IVF cycle, expenses for the next cycle are similar. Infertility treatment is also not covered by PhilHealth and company health plans.
What are the complications associated with IVF?
IVF is associated with pregnancy complications and other risks, such as:
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
OHSS is a condition that occurs when there is overstimulation in the ovaries, resulting in swelling, although this only happens in 1-2% of women who have taken medication. The condition is more common in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Women with OHSS may experience mild to severe symptoms, such as bloating, swelling of the abdomen, nausea, and vomiting. In more extreme cases, fluid may collect in the lungs and/or body cavity, and patients may be required admission to the hospital.
Patients at risk of OHSS or have had OHSS in past cycles are advised to receive a smaller dose of HCG before egg retrieval or to use an alternative drug to stimulate follicle development.
Risk of multiple pregnancies
Ovarian stimulation drugs in IVF can result in multiple pregnancies. Couples who choose IVF have a 1 in 6 chance of getting pregnant with twins, whereas 3 in 100 can conceive triplets if three embryos are transferred.
Multiple pregnancies carry a heightened risk of complications, including miscarriage, prematurity, restricted fetal growth, pregnancy complications, and the potential requirement for operative delivery.
Risk of ectopic pregnancy
While IVF enables medical professionals to directly implant embryos into a woman’s uterus as a part of the treatment, the risk of an ectopic pregnancy persists. This occurs when the pregnancy develops in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
What are your other considerations before getting IVF?
IVF isn’t just a physical journey; it’s also an emotional and financial one. It’s important for couples to have support from their loved ones and from professionals — this can make a significant difference.
However, if you have any uncertainties, we strongly advise seeking medical advice from specialists rather than trying to self-diagnose your symptoms online. It might not be easy, but the first step is always the most difficult.
Book a consultation with a world-class fertility specialist at Victory ART Laboratory.