In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of several techniques that can be used to help people with fertility problems have a baby.
With IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s body and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized egg – known as an embryo – is then placed inside the woman’s womb where it will hopefully implant in the lining of her uterus and grow and develop.
IVF can be carried out using a woman’s eggs and her partner’s sperm, or eggs and sperm from donors.
There are seven main stages associated with IVF treatment:
- Ovary stimulation – Medication is used to encourage the woman’s ovaries to produce more eggs than usual.
- Progress monitoring and maturing of eggs – Ultrasounds and blood tests are used to monitor the eggs, while medication is administered to help them develop.
- Egg retrieval – A needle is used to collect eggs from each ovary. This step takes around 30 minutes and the woman can usually go home afterwards.
- Egg fertilization – The retrieved eggs are mixed with sperm. They have the chance to find each other and fertilize the same as they would inside the body.
- Embryo development – If the sperm fertilizes the egg, it becomes an embryo. The embryo is then placed inside a special incubator where conditions are perfect to encourage growth and development.
- Embryo transplant – Once the IVF specialists are satisfied that the embryo is developing correctly, it is then transplanted into the woman’s uterus.
- Final blood test – Approximately two weeks after the embryo has been transplanted, a final blood test is performed to check the woman’s hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels, which are used to determine if she is pregnant or not.
It is important to note that not all eggs, unfortunately, will fertilize and reach the embryo stage. This can occur as a result of immature eggs and/or weak sperm.
If you and your partner have been struggling to conceive naturally, IVF could help you get pregnant. Find out more about how we can facilitate IVF treatment for French-speaking patients in Spain by contacting us today.