The IVF process is emotionally intense, physically draining and expensive. But advanced medical knowledge and pioneering lab techniques are making the ‘take-home baby rate’ for women and couples better than ever, writes Danielle Barron.
Merrion Fertility Clinic featured in the Sunday Business Post and answered the most common fertility questions.
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The IVF Process
Whether it’s Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or standard In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), the procedure is the same for the couple. Professor Mary Wingfield, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the National Maternity Hospital, and clinical director of Merrion Fertility Clinic, outlines what a typical IVF cycle involves. “We try to get between ten and 15 eggs, and to achieve this the woman has to go on fertility drugs that she self-injects for ten to 15 days.”
The eggs are removed vaginally, and on the same day the man produces a sperm sample. The eggs and sperm are placed in culture, and by the following day, it will be obvious which eggs have been fertilised and are on their way to forming embryos.
Three to five days later, all proceeding well, an embryo is selected to be put back into the woman’s womb. Any extra viable embryos are frozen to be used in the future.
IVF Success Rates
The good news is that there have been a number of incremental improvements in IVF over the years, which has seen the “take-home baby rate” soar from 10 per cent to 30 per cent on average, says Wingfield.
“It’s much better than it used to be. If the woman is under 35, then with one treatment it is 50 per cent – you can compare that to couples with peak fertility who will only get pregnant every third time they try.”
To get pregnant naturally, around 15 million healthy sperm are needed, but for IVF you need about 100,000. Of course, just one sperm and one egg make a baby, but understandably with an IVF cycle they like to maximise your chances.
For more common causes of poor sperm production and motility (the movement and swimming of the sperm), urologists have a range of strategies and interventions that can help improve sperm quantity and quality.