How does IVF work?

IVF is one of the most popular fertility treatments for couples who are trying to conceive. Standing for In Vitro Fertilisation, it’s one of the many techniques that we offer, and our patient approach and high success rates mean that you’re in good hands!

But, you may want to learn more about IVF before choosing this route to parenthood. According to fertility guidelines, IVF should be offered to women under the age of 43, who have been trying to get pregnant via sexual intercourse for at least two years.

However, the number of IVF treatment cycles you may have, varies by age and you may find that women under the age of 35 have the best success rates. Throughout the process, you could also discover that you’re able to carry a child, even if you previously thought otherwise.

IVF is one of the most popular fertility treatments, with approximately 30,000 couples every year in the UK using it to assist with pregnancy. It’s also a great process to enable same sex couples to become parents as they can use donor eggs or sperm to coincide with their IVF treatment.

Around 68% of women under the age of 35 end their IVF process with a happy and healthy baby, even if they initially though that it wasn’t possible.

To help you find out more, we’ve explained how IVF works:

How does IVF work?

How does IVF work?

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IVF happens when an egg is taken from the female’s ovaries and fertilised with the male’s sperm. This fertilisation process takes place in a specialist laboratory and once fertilisation is completed, the embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus for a pregnancy to develop.

If you wish to undergo this treatment, you (and your partner) will have to visit a fertility specialist clinic. In this appointment, our specialist will look at your ovaries and womb. Men may be asked to provide a sperm test in order to give an accurate success rate for your IVF treatment.

Your specialist will ask you about your fertility history, conduct blood tests and maybe even give an ultrasound or x-ray to ensure that there are no underlying issues that could delay your treatment.

The treatment for IVF comes in six stages.  For women, part of the treatment means that you could be given medicine to boost the number of eggs that your body creates. This is not always needed and is often given to older women with a lower egg count to give them the best chance of IVF success.

Once this is done, your eggs will be monitored as they mature. This stage will be completely pain-free and carried out by simply using an ultrasound to look into your ovaries. If everything is progressing well, your eggs will then be collected from your ovaries and the fertilisation process will begin.

How long does it take?

It typically takes four to six weeks to complete a cycle of IVF, but this may be much quicker, depending on how quickly the ovaries respond to treatment, your egg fertilises and your body reacts to the embryo. It’s not uncommon for women’s womb to naturally adapt to being a mother, so you could be pregnant much sooner than you may have expected.

Here’s a run-down of what you might expect when going through IVF:

  • Week 1: Your eggs will be given time to mature. You’ll also visit your specialist for personalised consultations to ensure that you’re prepared and fully informed of the process before getting started.
  • Weeks 2-3: Also known as the ‘preparation period’, this where your ovaries, sperm and womb will be investigated to give the best chance of success. This is also when you’ll begin taking birth control pills to support the treatment.
  • Week 4: As you come into the fourth week of treatment, you’ll also be given more fertility medications and undergo several monitoring visits to check that everything’s going well.
  • Week 5: Your eggs will be taken and combined with sperm in a lab. Once the egg has fertilised, the embryo will be put back into your uterus.
  • Weeks 6-7: It’s time to get your results.

How successful is IVF treatment?

How successful is IVF treatment?

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Even though IVF treatment carries a good chance for a struggling couple to have a child, it’s important to remember that there’s no guarantee and you may need to undergo a few cycles before you become pregnant.

The success rate of IVF varies by age group, and it can also be affected by your individual egg and sperm quality. However, your specialist will be able to give you an accurate, tailored success rate when you get the results of your ovary, womb and sperm investigations.

Women under the age of 35 have the best chance of success, but the success rate is still only around 32% percent. For women over the age of 44, the success rate is significantly lower. The success rate varies drastically for women between the ages of 35 and 44, despite the small nine-year age gap, but it’s not impossible.

The success of IVF treatments could also be influenced by your lifestyle choices as your body needs to be prepared to carry a child. Generally, it’s best to limit the amount of alcohol you drink, stop smoking, lose weight, and find methods to counteract any stress you’re feeling. Although struggling to get pregnant can be a stressful and emotional time, it’s important to stay positive and find ways to calm your body in preparation for pregnancy.

If you’re having difficulty trying to conceive, you’re not alone. Millions of people in the UK struggle with fertility-related issues but IVF treatment could be the best route to motherhood.

Here at Reproductive Health Group, we offer a full range of fertility treatments and services. There’s no need to suffer in silence if you are struggling to conceive.

We’d love to answer any of your questions and help you to achieve your dream of becoming a parent.