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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

In vitro fertilization (IVF)is the most effective treatment for women with absent, blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. It is now used to treat a wide range of fertility problems.

Fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles. Each follicle should contain one egg. The chances of pregnancy are increased if more than one egg can be obtained and fertilized. The response to stimulation is monitored by ultrasound scan measuring the number and size of the developing follicles in the ovaries and by measuring the blood oestrogen level. The final preparation for egg collection involves a hormonal injection given to the woman 36-40 hours pre-operatively. This mimics the natural process which triggers the eggs to complete their maturation making them ready for fertilization.

The eggs are collected vaginally using ultrasound guidance, under general or local anesthesia. After egg collection the eggs are fertilized by sperm outside the womb, in vitro.Embryo transfer is usually done two or three days after egg collection. Even on day five it can be done as desired by the embryologist.

ICSI: Intracytoplasmic sperm injection

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is an in vitro fertilization procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. This procedure is most commonly used to overcome male infertility problems, although it may also be used where eggs cannot easily be penetrated by sperm, and occasionally as a method of in vitro fertilization, especially that associated with sperm donation.

Couples go through the same preparatory processes as with IVF, namely ovulation induction and egg collection. Under high-power magnification, a glass tool (holding pipette) is used to hold an egg in place. A microscopic glass tube containing sperm (injection pipette) is used to penetrate and deposit one sperm into the egg. After culturing in the laboratory overnight, eggs are checked for evidence of fertilization. After incubation, the eggs that have been successfully fertilized (zygotes) or have had 3 to 5 days to further develop (zygotes or blastocysts) are selected. Two to three are placed in the uterus using a thin flexible tube (catheter) that is inserted through the cervix. The remaining embryos may be frozen (cryopreserved) for future attempts.