If you’re wondering ‘what is IVF?’, don’t worry, you’re not alone. We spoke to Dr Sharon Xian Li, the director of the City Fertility Centre in Brisbane to find out more and break down the process.
Many people have heard of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) – but do you know how the actual process works? Whether you are just beginning to research fertility treatments or are about to start IVF, the more you understand about the procedures, the less stress you may feel.
IVF literally means “fertilisation in glass”. The process involves fertilising the egg with the sperm in an incubator outside the body, then transferring the embryo back into the woman’s uterus. The whole process up to the embryo transfer stage usually takes six to eight weeks.
An IVF treatment cycle usually follows these eight phases:
Step 1: Pituitary Suppression – Starting Treatment
During a regular menstrual cycle, hormones from the pituitary gland – Luteinising Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) – generate the growth of an egg in a fluid-filled follicle within the ovary. While numerous follicles start growing each month, only one will become mature enough to ovulate. Ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary) is caused by an increase in LH about two weeks before menstruation starts.
On the other hand, during an IVF cycle it is desirable for several eggs to mature at the same time with FSH injections, and a trigger injection is given to mature the developing eggs before collection.
Your fertility coordinator will provide you with detailed information about your specific treatment cycle, including the timeline and medications. You will also be shown how to administer your daily FSH injections and given instructions for any other medications you may need during your treatment cycle.