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In-vitro fertilisation: top facts

For couples who can’t get pregnant, turning to doctors for help to have a baby using IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) is often the last hope.

But what is IVF? What do you need to know? Check out our top five facts!

What is IVF?

IVF stands for in-vitro fertilisation. Eggs and sperm, either from donors or the couple themselves, are taken and the fertilisation process (which causes a pregnancy) happens outside of the body. IVF usually isn't the first step when there are fertility issues; if you suspect you or your partner could have a problem, please see a doctor to see what your options are.

IVF is often used by couples that have been trying to get pregnant but have remained unsuccessful for a long time. There are various problems that can stand in the way of having a child, such as infertility in either or both partner(s), certain illnesses and diseases or premature menopause. But there are many other factors that influence your ability to have a child.

IVF has been around since 1978, but there are a few developments happening in the IVF-world that will start to make things easier and more successful. For example, a new scanning technique, the Sure24 chromosomal test, determines any problems with the embryos and can increase the success rate by 65 per cent.

How does IVF work?

If the woman's eggs are used, she will have to undergo hormone treatments for a while to produce more eggs than just one per cycle. These are then harvested at the time of ovulation. In a laboratory, they will then be immediately mixed with sperm from the father or a male donor.

Then, you wait to see if an embryo (or several) form(s). If it does, it will be transferred back into the woman's uterus. To increase the chances of pregnancy, usually more than one is being transferred. That, however, can result in more than one baby.

About two weeks later, a pregnancy test will show if the woman is pregnant or not.

What happens to the unused embryos?

If not all embryos are used, they can be frozen and used again later in case the first IVF doesn’t result in pregnancy.

That can keep costs down and a couple would need less time before they can try to get pregnant again.

How successful is IVF?

The success rate depends on a few things. Most importantly, the age of the mother-to-be. The younger she is, the better the chances are. In case of donor eggs, the younger the donor, the better the probability of pregnancy. Being healthy and avoiding smoking or drinking excessively also means your chances are better.

Another important factor is that 'fresh' eggs work better than frozen eggs.

On average, about 1 in 3 women undergoing IVF will get pregnant.

It's true that the chances of having twins or even triplets are higher with IVF compared to natural conception. That's because, in order to get better results, several embryos will be placed in a woman's uterus. Having twins, triplets or in rare cases even more babies can be a health risk for both the mother and the babies.

How much does it cost?

In the US, a round of IVF costs about US$ 13.000 (KSh 1.3M; NGN 4.7M). In Australia, certain insurance companies cover the costs in some cases.

If a couple is planning to opt for IVF, it's important to know that you may need more than one cycle, and so you need to plan the budget accordingly.
     

Are you facing difficulty conceiving? Or are you confused about pregnancy? Head to our discussion board for help from our moderators.

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