IVF is a term that seems to be continually thrown around. We’re constantly hearing about couples who are having babies with the help of IVF, but you could be forgiven for not understanding exactly what it it.
What is IVF?
IVF has been around for more than 30 years, and was initially used for women who had damaged fallopian tubes. Women are given hormone therapy which stimulates the development of a few follicles in the ovary. Once this happens, the eggs are then collected and fertilised “in vitro” (in a test tube), creating embryos.
Once the embryos have spent a few days in an incubator, a couple are transferred into the uterus, hopefully resulting in a successful pregnancy. Since this doesn’t always result in a pregnancy, the extra embryos are frozen so that another transfer can be made if the first one fails to work.
While it used to be the norm to transfer two or more embryos, often this will result in twins or triplets. For this reason, most IVF clinics are now only transferring one and freezing the rest. Before a woman reaches the age of around 35, IVF pregnancy rates are approximately 50% for each cycle, although success rates decline substantially for every year after 35.
Is IVF for you?
When you read fertility blogs and websites, it’s not uncommon to hear that if you’re under 35 and you’ve been trying (and failing) to get pregnant for a year you should go see a fertility doctor, and the same applies for those over 35 who have been trying for 6 months.
It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your fertility even when you’re not trying to get pregnant, by using an app like the popular Glow app to track your periods, writing down any symptoms you have such as irregular periods, and getting a workup from your doctor to check hormones like FSH and AMH.
Once you make the decision to try IVF, it’s important to remember that it may take a few cycles before you get pregnant. Only around 5% of couples with infertility are currently choosing IVF, however IVF and other techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies since 1981.
If you or your partner have low sperm counts, endometriosis, fallopian tube or uterus problems, ovulation problems, antibody problems, or something else, IVF may be able to help you have a healthy baby. First you’ll usually try other methods like artificial insemination, fertility drugs or surgery, before looking at your IVF options.
It’s important to choose a London IVF clinic that you feel comfortable with, so spend some time talking with the doctors and ask about their pregnancy ratio per embryo transfer, their pregnancy rates for your specific problem or age group, their live birth rate, twins and other multiple birth rates, the cost, and any other questions you may have.
IVF can be a stressful and physically demanding experience, however it’s all worth it when you’re holding a healthy baby. If you’re struggling with fertility problems, get in touch with an IVF clinic today.