IVF procedure and risks

Test-tube baby, also known as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), is a procedure usually done to help married couples who have fertility problems.

Why is IVF necessary? Difficulty in getting children is the main reason for the emergence of this procedure. However, several reasons such as disorders of the reproductive organs or sexual orientation that make this method must be done.

Since the two terms are the same, there is no difference between IVF and test-tube babies. Both in vitro fertilization (IVF) and test-tube baby have the same experience. Only the name is different.

IVF Procedure Stages

The procedure of in vitro fertilization or test-tube baby can be quite long. However, in general, the stages of IVF procedures can be divided into five processes as follows:

1. Knowing the Menstrual Cycle

The first process usually done by doctors to carry out IVF procedures is monitoring the menstrual cycle. Data related to menstruation plays an essential role in knowing exactly when the condition of the uterus enters the fertile period to increase the chances of pregnancy.

When entering the time before the fertile period, usually the mother-to-be will be advised to take GnRH antagonist drugs such as Ganirelix or GnRH agonist drugs such as Lupron. This attempts to control the ovulation cycle or fertile period while undergoing an IVF program.

2. Egg Release Process (Ovulation Induction)

When the doctor already knows the mother’s menstrual cycle, then the following process is to release eggs stimulated by the consumption of drugs. 

The ovulation induction process itself generally takes about 1 to 2 weeks. Meanwhile, during this time, the mother-to-be will undergo a transvaginal ultrasound procedure to ensure that the egg is growing normally.

At this stage, the obstetrician will also inject human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to trigger oocyte maturation until it is ready for retrieval.

Read more: Types of Female Fertility Tests for Pregnancy Preparation

3. Taking Eggs From The Womb

In the IVF program, the egg retrieval procedure is carried out approximately 34-36 hours after the mother-to-be receives an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Meanwhile, during the egg retrieval process, the doctor will give an anesthetic injection so that the mother-to-be does not feel pain.

The retrieval method of eggs itself usually uses transvaginal ultrasound. This tool serves as a doctor’s guide to make it easier to take eggs. Meanwhile, the oocytes that have been successfully retrieved will be immediately taken to the laboratory for further processing.

4. Male Sperm Cell Sampling

As we know, the process of fertilization cannot occur without the presence of egg cells and sperm cells produced by adult men. Therefore, after the egg is successfully taken, the next step is to ask for a sample of sperm cells, which is done by masturbating.

Besides masturbation, there are other procedures to get sperm, namely, performing surgery directly from the testes. However, this rarely happens, considering it takes time and extra costs.

Sperm cells are obtained by separating them from semen so that later the fertilization process can occur immediately.

5. Fertilization to Becoming an Embryo

After successfully getting the eggs and sperm, the next step is to carry out the fertilization process. Under normal conditions, fertilization occurs in the uterus. So IVF fertilization is carried out in an incubator tube in the laboratory.

Previously, the doctor will select the best egg cells, then place approximately 10,000 sperm that have been separated from the components of the semen and have been sorted for quality into a particular container.

The tube-shaped container will then go through an incubation process for 12-24 hours. It is expected that fertilization has occurred between the egg and the added sperm during its time.

In some cases, especially in men with low sperm quality, intervention is needed by indirect injection into mature eggs, or it can also be referred to as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

6. Embryo Transfer Process

The embryo transfer process is the final stage in the IVF procedure. This process will usually be carried out within 3-5 days after the sperm successfully fertilize the egg.

You should know that the fifth day is when the embryo has entered the blastocyst phase, which means the embryo already has the form of small cavities and can attach nicely to the uterine wall.

IVF embryo transfer steps:

  • The doctor will give anesthesia so that the mother-to-be does not feel pain during the embryo transfer procedure
  • Then, the doctor inserts a flexible tube (catheter) from the vaginal opening to the uterus
  • Furthermore, the best embryos that have been selected will be injected into the womb of the future mother through the flexible tube.
  • The doctor will ask you to lie down for a few hours.

Each embryo transfer process usually requires 2-5 embryos, while if there are leftovers, a freezing procedure can be carried out in case the process fails or if you want to have children again in the future.

Meanwhile, indicators of success in the embryo transfer process itself can be seen when the embedded embryo can attach to the uterine wall for approximately 6-10 days.

Possible Risks of IVF Program 

Before deciding to join the IVF program, you and your partner should also learn some of the risks as follows:

1. Mental and Physical Stress

It is undeniable that IVF procedures require extra energy, money, and extraordinary mental conditions, especially for mothers-to-be. Therefore, patients who participate in IVF procedures usually experience stress or mental stress.

2. Trigger Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)

According to an explanation from the Cleveland Clinic, Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome is a condition in which the body responds to excess hormones. The same source states that OHSS can cause the ovaries to swell.

The percentage is approximately 2% of expectant mothers who experience this when undergoing the IVF process. The side effects of fertility-enhancing drugs most likely trigger the cause.

3. Having an Ectopic Pregnancy

The Mayo Clinic reveals that IVF procedures can increase the risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Complications of ectopic pregnancy itself are when the implanted embryo is not attached to the uterine wall but in another place.

Pregnancy outside the uterus is expected in the abdominal cavity, fallopian tubes to the cervix. Signs of this can be felt when experiencing severe abdominal pain, light blood spots appear, to vaginal discharge that tends to be dark in color.

Read more: Symptoms and Causes of Pregnancy Outside the Womb

4. Twins Born

Having twins is not the primary goal of joining the IVF program for some couples. According to WHO data, this procedure has statistics for up to 17% of twin pregnancy cases.

That’s the explanation regarding IVF that you need to know. Many factors must be considered when undergoing this process. You and your partner should consult with your obstetrician first. You can also look for information related to a trusted IVF clinic with adequate facilities and technology, such as Morula IVF.