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How does in vitro fertilization (IVF) combat infertility?

By Michelle Lorraine Embleton B.Sc. Ph.D. (biochemist).
Last Update: 05/31/2024

Michelle Emblenton, a biochemist at inviTRA, talks about how in vitro fertilisation can help women with fertility problems:

Well, IVF stands for invitro fertilization. "In vitro" is the latin term for "in glass", so you can understand where we get the term from, fertilization takes place in glass outside of the human body, in the laboratory. The first step is to develop and mature the eggs with ovarian stimulation. This process will be monitored and, when the eggs are ready, they will be collected in a procedure called a follicular puncture (or an oven pickup). The collected eggs will then be taken to the IVF laboratory, where they will be fertilized with a previously prepared sperm sample. The resulting embryos after fertilization will be allowed to develop and grow in the laboratory for a few days before the best embryos are chosen for the embryo transfer and placed into the uterus of the woman and, hopefully, implant and give rise to a pregnancy. It is also possible to do this fertilization step with a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). In this technique, the embryologist will select the sperm for fertilization and inject it directly into the egg with a micro injection needle. This is particular useful in cases of severe male infertility or if the embryos are to undergo pre-implantation genetic diagnosis before being transferred into the uterus. The rest of the process is the same, the embryos are allowed to develop in the laboratory before being transferred into the woman's uterus. These days it is usual practice to transfer just one embryo into the woman's uterus. Any good quality leftover embryos can be vitrified, frozen, for later use if required in future embryo transfers. IVF is the technique of choice when we are faced with problems such as blockages in the fallopian tubes, a low ovarian reserve (a low egg count), when we have advancing maternal age and also in cases of moderate to severe endometriosis. It's also indicated when we have had several previously failed attempts at intrauterine insemination and, indeed, for cases of unexplained infertility. In the United United States, this treatment usually costs between $8,000 to $12,000 for one cycle. Again, prices depend from clinic to clinic and you'll find that many clinics have offers on multicycle treatments or offer a kind of money back guarantee for fail treatments. So, it's always worth looking into all the options available before deciding on your treatment plan.

 Michelle Lorraine Embleton
Michelle Lorraine Embleton
B.Sc. Ph.D.
Biochemist
PhD in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK, specialising in DNA : protein intereactions. BSc honours degree in Molecular Biology, Univerisity of Bristol. Translation and editing of scientific and medical literature.
Biochemist. PhD in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK, specialising in DNA : protein intereactions. BSc honours degree in Molecular Biology, Univerisity of Bristol. Translation and editing of scientific and medical literature.