In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. Other forms of ART include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).
IVF can be used to treat infertility in the following patients:
- Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- Male factor infertility including decreased sperm count or sperm motility
- Women with ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids
- Women who have had their fallopian tubes removed
- Individuals with a genetic disorder
- Unexplained infertility
There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process:
- Fertility medications are prescribed to stimulate egg production. Multiple eggs are desired because some eggs will not develop or fertilize after retrieval. A transvaginal ultrasound is used to examine the ovaries, and blood test samples are taken to check hormone levels.
- Eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure that uses ultrasound imaging to guide a hollow needle through the pelvic cavity to remove the eggs. Medication is provided to reduce and remove potential discomfort.
- The male is asked to produce a sample of sperm, which is prepared for combining with the eggs.
- In a process called Insemination, the sperm and eggs are mixed together and stored in a laboratory dish to encourage fertilization. In some cases where there is a lower probability of fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used. Through this procedure, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg in an attempt to achieve fertilization. The eggs are monitored to confirm that fertilization and cell division are taking place. Once this occurs, the fertilized eggs are considered embryos.
- The embryos are usually transferred into the woman’s uterus three to five days following egg retrieval and fertilization. A catheter or small tube is inserted into the uterus to transfer the embryos. This procedure is painless for most women, although some may experience mild cramping. If the procedure is successful, implantation typically occurs around six to ten days following egg retrieval.
Some side effects
Some side effects of IVF may include mild cramping, mild bloating, breast tenderness and constipation. Emergency symptoms for which you must see your doctor include heavy vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, blood in the urine, fever over 38°C, decreased urinary frequency, shortness of breath. There are also chances of multiple pregnancies due to the fertility treatment. However, the risk of miscarriage increases with maternal age.
How Much Does it Cost In Nigeria?
Thankfully there is an increase in the number of fertility clinics available in Nigeria. The cost of IVF depends on the hospital and can range between N500,000 – N2,000,000. Ensure you use an accredited fertility hospital to increase your success rate.