In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, is a highly advanced method of reproduction usually reserved as a last resort when other attempts have failed or are not possible. Often IVF is used after unsuccessful attempts at Intrauterine Fertilization. IVF consists of many steps beginning with harvesting eggs and sperm. The egg and sperm are put together, or incubated, to cause fertilization and then, an embryo. The embryos are moved to the uterus for the possibility of implantation. IVF provides a good possibility for couples to become parents. Pregnancy rates can reach beyond 50% for many couples.
Will IVF work for us?
IVF isn’t a guaranteed method of pregnancy, but for many couples who’ve run out of options, IVF may provide a chance for pregnancy. During your consultation with Dr. Heard, discussion will focus on each patient’s history and he will give a realistic expectation as to your chances for a successful pregnancy.
What can be expected undergoing IVF?
The first step is for Dr. Heard to determine whether IVF is the right course of action. The next steps will be for each partner to undergo medical exams and testing to determine cause of infertility. After the results are reviewed, the IVF treatment will begin. Each patient’s treatment plan is unique and specific to their needs. Dr. Heard will educated the patients and make sure that every detail is understood through the entire process.
The process will look like this:
Oral contraceptive treatment for 14-35 days followed by Lupron for about two weeks. Next, fertility medications with close monitoring will occur until an egg is ready to be harvested. Fertilization will occur in a laboratory once an egg is successfully retrieved. Upon fertilization, the healthy embryo is placed inside the uterus, sometimes resulting in pregnancy. Once a healthy heart beat is detected, the patient will be referred to an obstetrician for the duration of the pregnancy.
How long is an IVF cycle?
The total time involved, from the start of oral contraceptive to the transplant of the embryo is about 6 weeks.
What can be done to improve sperm quality?
During an IVF treatment, the male partner will be asked to provide a sperm sample. The sperm provided will have been created inside the body three months prior and quality will be determined by what he was doing at that time. Patients are required to follow these guidelines to help ensure the best sample possible:
- A fever of 101 or higher – take Tylenol to lower a fever and avoid damage to the sperm.
- Make Dr. Heard aware of any prescription medications for the previous 3 months.
- Avoid submerging and resting in hot tubs, spas, Jacuzzis, or saunas three months prior – the extreme heat can kill or cause damage to sperm.
- Extreme or endurance exercise is best avoided – stick to moderate exercise.
- Avoid testosterone or other hormone supplements before and during the treatment cycle.
- Do not ejaculate for two to three days prior to collection. But, do not abstain for more than five.
How many embryos are transferred during an IVF treatment?
The number of eggs retrieved, fertilized, and transferred is based on age. Younger than 35 years of age: 1-2 embryos are transferred 35-40 years of age: 2-3 embryos are transferred.
Are there any restrictions on physical or personal activities during IVF treatment?
As always, when trying to conceive, avoid alcohol and smoking. Even men who drink alcohol during IVF treatment risk damage to the sperm. Best practice is to stop smoking at least two months prior to IVF. Tobacco has been proven toxic to an egg.
Also, some medications may be dangerous when combined with certain fertility medications or create an increased risk for complications during an operation or medical procedure. There are some medications that might interfere with ovulation or implantation. Additionally, heavy or exhaustive exercise, such as aerobics, running or jogging, and lifting weights is not advised until pregnancy test results are known.