What happens during a typical IVF journey?

The journey through an IVF treatment can be quite a daunting process, so we are here to help guide you through every step, ensuring that you feel happy that the treatment is the right way forward for you.

Initial IVF consultation

In the very first stage of your IVF journey, you will meet your consultant who will discuss everything from your medical history to which treatment would be best suited to your personal needs. Your treatment plan will be individually tailored to you, based on factors such as age, results of any tests undertaken and outcome of any previous treatment. More importantly, your consultant will be able to answer any questions you have.

Meeting your specialist nurse

Following the initial consultation and once agreement is made on how to proceed, you’ll meet with a specialist nurse who will help you go through all of the legal consent forms and your plan of treatment, as well as instructing you on how to administer the daily dose of stimulation medication and answering any other questions you may have.  You will also have access to our experienced fertility counsellors should you need any additional support  at any time before, during or after your treatment.

Ovary stimulation

The next stage is to stimulate the ovaries, which is monitored by a number of blood tests and ultrasound scans. We will assess your response to the stimulation medication by the number and size of follicles being produced in the ovaries, where the eggs will eventually be developed. An injection will then be administered to stimulate the final maturation of your eggs once the decision has been made that the optimal number and size of follicles have been produced.

Egg retrieval

The retrieval of eggs will usually happen around 36 hours after the last injection, and will take place in the theatre, usually whilst you’re sedated. A needle will be guided by ultrasound through your vaginal wall into the ovaries to withdraw fluid from each follicle. This is the easiest and safest approach. A number of tubes containing the collected fluid are taken to the embryology lab where an embryologist examines every tube under a microscope to identify the eggs.

Fertilisation

The collected eggs are cultured in an incubator in optimised conditions until the eggs are ready to be inseminated with the sperm provided either by your partner, or by a donor. The following morning, the embryologist will check to see how many eggs have been successfully fertilised and will contact you by phone with the news. Over the following few days, the developing embryos are carefully checked and at the most appropriate time, we’ll make arrangements for your embryo transfer.

Embryo transfer

At the time of your embryo transfer, the embryologist will discuss with you the quality and number of embryos and whether any would be suitable for freezing for use in the future. The transfer will take place back in the procedure room, but usually requires no sedation or anaesthetic. The embryos, once selected, will be transferred using a special catheter, a fine plastic tube which is inserted through the cervix and into the womb.

Once the procedure has been completed, you will be discharged home and advised to wait for at least two weeks before taking a pregnancy test to see if the transfer was successful. This can be the hardest part of the process but we suggest you carry on life as normally as possible.  After the pregnancy test has been taken, we will either carry out an ultrasound scan or we will organise an appointment for you to discuss the next steps.