Infertility affects 7.1 percent of American couples, notes Serendip. Some of these couples who are suffering from infertility resort to artificial conception methods to have a baby. One of these methods is in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this method, eggs from the mother and sperm from the father are combined in a laboratory. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are implanted into the woman’s uterus.
At the beginning of IVF, a woman must take fertility medications to induce ovulation and she can release multiple eggs when she ovulates. Because some eggs won’t develop or become fertilized, multiple eggs are needed to increase the success of IVF.
When it is determined that it is time for the egg collection through blood work and ultrasound examinations, the woman is given local anesthesia. A hollow needle is then inserted into the ovaries to remove the eggs.
Once the eggs are collected, they will be placed with sperm in a specialized incubator. The laboratory staff monitors the eggs to determine when the cell division begins to occur. At this point, the eggs are considered embryos.
Between two and three days after the egg collection, the embryos are implanted into the mother’s uterus. This ultrasound guided procedure involves suspending the embryos in fluid and injected them into the uterus with a special catheter that is threaded through the vagina and cervix up to the uterus.
Once the embryos are placed into the uterus, the woman must wait to see if she develops pregnancy symptoms. An ultrasound and blood test to check for elevated levels of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are also used to check for and confirm pregnancy.
There is an increase risk of having multiples when you have IVF. This is because the doctor implants more than one embryo into the uterus because it is unlikely that all embryos implanted will survive.
Other risks include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, bloating, weight gain and shortness of breath.
I have a friend who opted to have IVF after coping with infertility for nine years. I was with her at the initial doctor appointment and have been following her since. She is pregnant with twins that are due October 5, 2010. Thus far, her pregnancy has been normal and she hasn’t had any complications.
I asked her about the IVF cycle. She said it was difficult to cope with the injections during the phase to get her ovulation cycle regulated. During the procedure to collect her eggs, she said that she felt a lot of pain and suffered from severe cramps after the procedure. When she got the call to implant the eggs, she was concerned about that type of pain occurring again. Luckily, she said that she didn’t feel anything during or after the implantation. She said that neither she nor her husband slept much from the egg collection appointment until the pregnancy test and ultrasound confirmed the pregnancy.
IVF is a possible infertility treatment for those who are willing to endure the cycle of treatment and who is willing to accept the possibility of having a multiples pregnancy.