What is IVF?
IVF is short for in vitro fertilization - which literally means "fertilisation in glass" (IVF babies are sometimes referred to as "test tube babies", even though fertilisation doesn't take place in a test tube). IVF refers to a technique of assisted reproduction where the egg and sperm are fertilized outside of the body to form an embryo. This embryo is then transferred to the uterus to hopefully implant and become a pregnancy.
The technique was developed in the United Kingdom by Dr Patrick Steptoe and Dr Robert Edwards. The first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978.IVF was originally developed to treat infertility caused by blocked or damaged fallopian tubes but has since spread to use in treating a wide variety of fertility problems. The further development of ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), where a single sperm is injected into an egg, has helped many couples with male factor infertility.
IVF protocols are adapted to suit the needs of each patient.Generally patients may prepare for a cycle by taking medications to ensure that ovarian stimulation can occur at the correct time. Then the ovaries are stimulated by daily injections to produce multiple eggs (during this time blood tests and ultrasounds are used to monitor progress and determine the best time for egg collection. A "trigger" injection is administered to mature the follicle and eggs and these oocytes are retrieved using an ultrasound guided procedure around 36-38 hours later and a fresh sperm sample is collected at the same time.
Fertilisation takes place in the lab and 2-5 days later the fertilised embryo is transferred into the uterus by catheter. Further drug support is also given. Generally a pregnancy blood test is taken around 15 days after egg collection or ovulation.
8 cell embryo
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