What is the Step-by-step Process for IVF?

In vitro fertilisation or IVF is one of the fertility treatments that has helped millions of couples in becoming parents. Over forty years ago, Sir Bob Edwards and Patrick Steptoe successfully undertook the first IVF treatment after more than ten years of painstaking research and failed attempts. This led to the birth of world’s first IVF baby, Louise brown, on 25th July 1978 at Oldham General Hospital. IVF now contributes to nearly two per cent of the live births in UK.

1. Find the Best IVF Clinic

The first step before starting IVF treatment is to choose the best IVF clinic or the best Fertility specialist that meets your criteria. Every patient or couple has differing requirements or criteria based on their circumstances. These can be anything, such as proximity to your home or work, or the fertility clinic’s experience in dealing with your cause of infertility, or the IVF success rates. Many London fertility clinics or IVF clinics will offer open evening clinics or meetings. This is an excellent opportunity to see the clinic. Where such an opportunity does not exist, then you may want to book an initial consultation to discuss why you are facing difficulties with conceiving and also discuss the results of fertility tests or an MOT that you may have already taken.

2. Fertility Tests

If you have had fertility tests already then you can discuss starting IVF treatment. Otherwise, you and your partner will have to go through fertility tests to understand your cause of infertility. The initial fertility tests are ovarian reserve tests, semen analysis and tests to check the fallopian tubes. Before starting IVF fertility treatment, all patients and their partners will have to take tests to check for viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. There may also be other infection screen tests that will be advised from time to time depending on your assessment.

3. IVF Orientation or Co-ordination Appointment

Your IVF specialist or nurse will see you for a pre-treatment orientation appointment to discuss your treatment plan. It is important that you understand all aspects of the treatment such as IVF monitoring tests, number of visits required, whether you need to take time off work, side effects from medications and any associated risks.

4. Medications

You will also be shown how to administer fertility medications. Most fertility drugs are in the form of injections which most patients administer themselves. Also, before starting IVF treatment make sure you have received all the prescribed fertility drugs. Most fertility treatments, including IVF, have to be timed to certain days of your menstrual cycle. Hence, your fertility specialist will tell you about the start dates for fertility injections.

5. Follicular Tracking or IVF Monitoring

During treatment you will be seen a couple of times for follicle tracking. Follicle tracking is a process which monitors the development of follicles and their response to IVF drugs. This is done by regular transvaginal scans or internal vaginal scans and blood tests. The exact number of these appointments will depend on how you are responding to fertility drugs.

6. Egg Collection

Once the follicles are thought to have reached the right size, then the eggs will be harvested. The egg collection or egg retrieval is a minor operation which is done under sedation. The eggs and sperms will be inseminated and then checked regularly to see how the embryos are developing. If you are facing difficulties with conceiving because of low sperm count or low sperm motility, then you will require intracytoplasmic sperm insemination or ICSI or IVF/ICSI. With ICSI, the eggs will be injected with a carefully selected sperm.

7. Embryo Transfer

The embryos will then be transferred a few days later. This is a minor gynaecological procedure very similar to having a smear test.

8. IVF Outcome Pregnancy Test

A few weeks later, you will need to take a pregnancy test. This may be a urine or blood pregnancy test.

Before starting the first IVF treatment cycle or any fertility treatment, this may all feel intimidating. For a more simplified, step by step illustration of your fertility treatment appointments at a London IVF clinic, visit our your Journey page.

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