May 20, 2019
What is IVF?
At Wessex Fertility, we love humans and we are dedicated to helping people have the babies they’ve always dreamed of. We provide IVF treatments in our world-class facilities and always put our patients’ needs at the forefront of everything we do.
IVF Treatment Definition
What is IVF? In Vitro Fertilisation, otherwise known as IVF, is a method of getting pregnant for people who may struggle to conceive naturally. It is one of the most widely known types of assisted reproductive technologies. IVF is where the egg is fertilised by the sperm outside of the body. Once fertilised, the healthiest embryos are chosen and transferred into the woman’s uterus. After transferring the embryo, a successful round of IVF would result in a positive pregnancy test and a healthy baby.
Who is IVF Treatment for?
IVF may be appropriate for women who have not successfully conceived after a year of unprotected, regular intercourse. IVF may be undertaken by couples who are struggling to conceive on their own, single women wanting to have a baby through sperm donation, and same-sex couples. IVF treatment may also be for the following people:
- Patients for whom artificial insemination has failed
- Women with ovulatory disorders
- Women with damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
- Individuals or couples with a genetic condition
- Women suffering from endometriosis
- Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Male factor infertility
- Women with premature ovarian failure
- Women with uterine fibroids
- Women with damaged fallopian tubes
- Individuals with a genetic disorder
- Unexplained infertility
At Wessex Fertility, we don’t discriminate. We are here to help make your dreams of a family a reality through a fertility treatment plan that works for you.
IVF Allows for Pregnancy After Premature Menopause
If a woman experiences menopause, this is usually a signifier that she is no longer able to conceive as she no longer has a natural cycle. While, for many women, menopause comes later in life when they are finished having their families, for some women it occurs at a very young age.
Through IVF, women have been able to experience healthy pregnancies. With help from an egg donor, even after premature menopause a woman can carry a healthy pregnancy with the help of IVF infertility treatment.
IVF Helps Overcome Male Infertility
Many people often assume that IVF is used to overcome female infertility. While this is what IVF is most commonly used for, IVF treatments can also assist in overcoming male infertility. To improve the likelihood of conception, a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection may be used. This is where the man’s sperm is injected directly into the woman’s egg cell. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is an IVF treatment used when the sperm is struggling to penetrate the egg on its own.
How Does IVF Work?
IVF works using a combination of medication and procedures to help sperm fertilise the egg and the fertilised egg to successfully implant in the woman’s uterus.
The IVF process starts with taking medication that helps several of your eggs to mature, getting them ready for fertilisation. When the follicles (the fluid sacs in which the eggs develop) have grown to the right size, your doctor will schedule the egg retrieval. At this stage, an injection of hCG is administered to help mature the eggs inside the follicles. This injection is given thirty-six hours before the scheduled time of the egg collection.
The egg collection process only takes around 15-30 minutes to complete. To ensure you don’t experience any discomfort during the procedure, you will be given medication. During the egg collection, a fine needle is passed through the vaginal wall and into the ovary to collect the eggs. You will need to stay in the clinic for at least an hour after the procedure is finished. But once this time has passed, you will be able to go home. It is important to have someone with you as you will not be able to drive for the rest of the day.
Fertilisation of the Eggs
The collected eggs are fertilised in a test tube to create embryos. After three to five days in an incubator, one of these embryos will be transferred into the woman’s uterus. If the embryos implant successfully, pregnancy begins.
It is important to be aware that not all embryos successfully implant, which is why we suggest that surplus embryos are frozen. This means you can try again if implantation was unsuccessful or try for a brother or sister later down the line if you want to. The frozen embryos give you another chance at pregnancy without having to restart the whole IVF process again.
Get Plenty of Rest
On the day of your embryo transfer, it is important to get plenty of rest. If you wish to, you can resume light normal activities the next day.
To give your body the best chance at a successful implantation, you can take pessaries or get daily injections of progesterone for the first 8-10 weeks after the embryo transfer.
The progesterone is a hormone that aids implantation, where the embryo attaches to the womb lining.
Embryo donation may be appropriate for single women unable to use their number of eggs or couples who require both egg and sperm donation. Embryos are most commonly donated by couples who have enjoyed successful IVF treatment and want to help others experience the same joy they have.
IVF treatments can sometimes produce extra embryos and the couple must decide what to do with them. Of course, they can freeze them and keep them stored for when and if they choose to have more children, or they can donate their embryos to other couples who are struggling to conceive. Alternatively, extra embryos can be donated to medical research teams, but this is a decision that needs to be made by the couple and the couple alone.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
In conventional IVF, at least 100,000 sperm must be placed next to an egg for a high chance at achieving fertilisation.
ISCI treatment involves the injection of a single sperm directly into each egg. The treatment leading up to an ICSI is identical to the conventional IVF cycle.
As only a small number of sperm are required for ICSI, this treatment is appropriate for couples where the man has low numbers of normal, motile sperm and would be unsuitable for IVF treatment unless donor sperm is used. In addition, because the sperm does not have to penetrate the egg membrane itself, it is also suitable for couples who have unexplained failure of fertilisation in previous IVF treatment. ICSI is only recommended for couples struggling with a case of proven male factor infertility.
Treatment Protocols: Long and Short Protocol IVF
Most patients have long protocol IVF, which starts with suppressing your hormones so we can take control of when you ovulate. This is called down-regulation, and at this clinic it’s done with injections called agonists. Later on, you take injections to stimulate your ovaries to produce follicles that will contain the mature eggs. Some patients have short protocol IVF in which the down-regulation medication is not required. The most appropriate protocol for you will be discussed during your consultations.
Antagonist (mild) IVF
Wessex Fertility also offers antagonist cycles. The advantage of antagonist cycles is that treatment can be tailored closely to your individual needs. You take injections over a shorter period, minimising any discomfort and reducing the overall cost of medication. Another advantage is a reduced risk of ovarian hyperstimulation.
Embryos are monitored carefully and graded as they develop, and usually transferred 3-5 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 used in our laboratory and is included in each patient’s cycle.
The Risks of and Side Effects of IVF Treatment
Our aim at Wessex Fertility to help you conceive successfully, carry a healthy pregnancy to full term, and give birth to a healthy baby. However, we know that the process of IVF can be physically and emotionally exhausting. That’s why we think it’s important you are also aware of the risks associated with this fertility treatment.
IVF and Multiple Births
One of the most common risks associated with IVF is that of multiple births. Having more than one baby at a time as a result of IVF is directly linked to transferring multiple embryos at once. On average, one in five women experience multiple pregnancies after IVF, compared to one in eighty women who conceive multiples naturally.
Multiple births are considered to be the single biggest risk of any fertility treatment. The reason for this is that multiples can increase the chances of miscarriage, premature births and stillbirths. What’s more, women who are pregnant with multiples are more likely to experience complications during their pregnancy such as high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, and late miscarriage.
At Wessex Fertility, we care for each individual patient that comes through our doors. We only transfer one to two embryos into the woman’s uterus at any one time. If a woman does get pregnant with multiples, we do everything we can to help the woman enjoy a safe pregnancy journey.
Miscarriages and IVF
At Wessex Fertility we help you to conceive successfully, carry your pregnancy to full term, and give birth to a healthy baby. Many women worry that the rate of miscarriage is higher for those conceiving through IVF treatments. However, this is not the case. The rate of miscarriage for IVF patients is similar to that of women who conceive naturally – about 15 to 25%. However, this rate does increase with maternal age.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome
In very rare cases, the use of fertility drugs during the IVF process can cause Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. This causes your ovaries to become swollen and painful. You may also experience symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, bloating, and nausea. The symptoms of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome should only last one week. However, if you become pregnant, these symptoms are likely to last for several weeks.
How IVF Affects Stress
IVF can be emotionally and physically exhausting for many couples. The effect of the procedures and the emotional impact of, what can be, such a life changing treatment can really take its toll if individuals and couples are not properly supported.
Here at Wessex Fertility, our top priority is caring for the mental wellbeing and physical health of our patients. At Wessex Fertility, we don’t think anyone should go through IVF treatment without any support, that’s why we have a dedicated fertility counselling service to help you through the varying ups and downs of fertility treatment.
Costs of IVF and IVF/ICSI Treatment with Wessex Fertility
The costs of IVF/ICSI treatment with Wessex Fertility include an IVF cycle and one counselling session (if required), as well as the following:
• All ultrasound scans during the treatment cycle
• Egg Collection Procedure (this includes intravenous sedation administered by a Consultant during the Egg Collection).
• Embryo monitoring with the state of the art Embryoscope
• Embryo Transfer Procedure
• Medical and nursing care
• Advice before, during, and after treatment up to the pregnancy test and early pregnancy scan when treatment is successful.
• If the pregnancy result is positive, an early pregnancy scan.
• If the result is negative, a consultation follow-up appointment within three months of treatment.
All of the above comes to £3915. Costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances and treatment plan. You can find a full breakdown of our fertility treatment costs here.
Wessex Fertility is a Fertility Clinic with a Difference
At Wessex Fertility Clinic, we know that many people dream of having a family one day. However, for some conception doesn’t or can’t happen naturally, and that’s where we are here to help.
Whatever your fertility or women’s health needs, our team of fertility specialists will dedicate their time to helping understand you, your personal circumstances, and your dream of having a family.
If you would like to discuss fertility treatments with us further or arrange an informal visit to the clinic to meet our lovely team, please contact us on 023 80706000 to arrange a convenient time. We look forward to meeting you!