In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is an assisted conception technique used to treat all forms of infertility other than involving a male factor problem.
The technique involves adding previously collected and prepared sperm to a laboratory dish containing the eggs for fertilisation. The eggs, following fertilisation by the sperm “in-vitro”, develop into embryos which are then returned to the woman’s uterus, through an “embryo transfer” procedure. Any remaining embryos from this process may be suitable to be frozen and used at a later date.
Essentially there are several stages within IVF:
- Suppression of the woman’s hormones by drugs, usually administered as a nasal spray, to prevent any interference with the next stage of ovarian stimulation
- Stimulation of the ovaries by gonadotrophin injections to produce eggs
- Collection of the eggs from the ovaries, usually performed under sedation
- Preparation of sperm sample obtained on the day of egg collection
- Laboratory technique of introducing the sperm to the eggs “in-vitro”
- Replacement of the fertilised eggs (embryos) into the womb