What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
In vitro fertilization also referred to as IVF, is a treatment that prompts results in cases of female, male, or couple infertility when other treatments have failed or cannot be applied.
When should a couple resort to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
IVF is recommended in the following cases:
- Obstructed fallopian tubes or pelvic adhesions with disturbed pelvic anatomy (tubal factor)
- Male infertility with low motility sperm, low sperm count, or both. In cases such as these, the ICSI method is used (male factor)
- After failure of 2-4 cycles of intrauterine insemination (IUI); especially in unexplained infertility, where fertility tests do not reveal an underlying cause
- Women over 38 years of age
- Reduced ovarian reserve, with a low quantity and low quality of oocytes after stimulation. Ovarian reserves are checked on the 3rd day of the cycle by measuring the FSH, AMH, and number of antral follicles. In cases of low quality and quantity of eggs, egg donation can be an alternative treatment.
- Extreme endometriosis
- Duration of couple infertility for more than 3 years
How in vitro fertilization (IVF) improves fertility?
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) assists human reproduction. Of all the methods of Assisted Reproduction, IVF has the highest success rate.
Quality and quantity of available eggs in the ovaries decrease with age, therefore the ovaries are stimulated in order to produce the highest possible number of eggs.
During IVF, the requirements for sperm density and motility are lower.
To a certain extent, the many months of natural conception can be reduced in during an IVF cycle.
By transferring the embryos into the uterus, we bypass obstacles such as blocked fallopian tubes, or low quality sperm unable to fertilize, etc.
What is the process of IVF?
Monitoring Follicle Stimulation
After the gynecological examination and the fertility tests, the stimulation protocol is determined. The maturation of follicles resulting in the production of eggs, is done with the help of the appropriate medication. The ideal outcome would be the stimulation of 8-15 follicles.
The growth of the follicles is monitored using blood tests by measuring estradiol hormone levels in the blood stream, along with an ultrasound every 1-3 days.
Once a sufficient number of follicles have matured, the eggs are retrieved through a process called egg collection. This is done transvaginal using an ultrasound while the patient is anesthetized and occurs in the duration of about 10-15 minutes. There is no pain or memory of the procedure.
Afterwards, the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory with the male partner’s sperm. When either the sperm density and motility or quality of the eggs is low, the ICSI method is used to aid fertilization.
The embryo transfer is scheduled after culturing the embryos in the laboratory for 3 day(5 days for a blastocyst). The embryos are then placed in the uterus and a pregnancy is established.
It is a painless procedure, it is done without anesthesia and it is very important. Carefully, without much manipulation, they are placed in the intrauterine cavity, with the guidance of ultrasound. This is followed by a rest of about 1 hour in the Unit.
Excess embryos can be frozen for future use.
Number of Transferred Embryos
According to the Greek law, up to 2 embryos can be transferred to the uterus of women under the age of 40 and 3-4 to those that are older. When the embryos are at the blastocyst stage, we transfer 1-2.
Movement After Embryo Transfer
Home departure is immediate and safe. Couples, who live outside of Athens, are able to return home by car or other means of transportation that day. If you have plans to travel abroad by air, it is better to wait about four days before leaving.
Precautionary Measures After Embryotransfer
After the embryo transfer, it is recommended to rest for 4-5 days at home prior to returning to daily activity, without exerting or exhausting oneself. Sexual intercourse should be avoided. A healthy diet is recommended and alcohol is not allowed.
Embryo Implantation and Pregnancy Test
The implantation (attachment) of the embryo(s) to the uterine wall will take place 3-4 days (1-2 in the blastocyst stage) after the embryo transfer.
Chorionic gonadotropin (β-HCG) is a hormone that increases during pregnancy. It is detected in the blood stream 9-12 days after the transfer of the embryos. Urine pregnancy tests are not reliable and therefore they are not recommended.
Note: At each stage of the treatment you will receive detailed, written instructions and have 24 hour communication support.