Stages of IVF
We approach each patient and their IVF cycle in a strictly personalised way. Nevertheless, every procedure follows the same basic scenario: preparation; ovarian stimulation; egg retrieval; semen collection and preparation fo spermatozoa; fertilisation and monitoring of embryo development; embryo transfer into the uterus; pregnancy test.
IVF Step by Step
Preparing for IVF
During the preparation phase for the IVF cycle, your fertility consultant will keep you informed about the stages of the procedure and will discuss with you every next step. In some cases, they may assign additional tests and consultations besides the required tests you presented at the initial appointment.
Ovarian stimulation (or, more precisely, controlled ovarian hyperstimulation) aims to simultaneously grow a larger number of egg follicles by administering various medications.
Stimulation is done following predefined patterns, called stimulation protocols.
Which protocol will be the choice of your fertility consultant, and how exactly it will be done depends on the specifics of your case.
This is the stage at which we collect the matured oocytes. Under ultrasound guidance, a very thin needle is inserted through the vaginal wall to reach the ovary and pierce the follicles one after the other. The fluid in the follicle containing the egg is then aspirated and collected in test tubes. Immediately afterwards, the follicular fluid is handed over to the embryologist, who inspects it under the microscope to confirm the presence of oocytes.
The assessment of embryo development usually is done by traditional microscopy methods. Still, in many cases, we apply the most modern platform for embryo culture and continuous monitoring, the embryoscope.
The embryoscope combines a last-generation incubator with an inbuilt microscope with a camera and specialised software for monitoring and analysis of embryo development without the need to take them outside the incubator.
Embryo Transfer and Pregnancy Test
Suppose your embryo is developing normally and reaches the stage of two to eight cells after a series of cleavage divisions (typically in about 48 hours). In that case, it can be transferred to the uterus (embryo transfer) on the third day after the egg retrieval. Alternatively, embryo transfer can be done on days four or five when the embryos have reached the blastocyst stage.
Two weeks after the embryo transfer, you will make the pregnancy test – a urinary (dipstick) one or a blood test.
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Having difficulty conceiving does not necessarily mean that any of those methods have to be used. In some cases, fertility issues are due to light hormonal imbalances. These could be successfully treated with adequate therapy or lifestyle changes so that spontaneous pregnancy can occur. In other cases, however, resorting to the methods of assisted reproduction is indeed necessary.