What is IVF and how can you prepare for it?

What Is In Vitro Fertilization?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of assistive reproductive technology (ART). It involves retrieving eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm. The resulting fertilized egg is known as an embryo. The fertilized egg can then be transferred to a woman’s uterus or frozen for storage through a technique known as egg vitrification.

Depending on your infertility diagnosis, IVF can use:

  • Your eggs and your partner’s sperm
  • Your eggs and donor sperm
  • Donated Embryos
  • Donor eggs and donor sperm
  • Donor eggs and your partner’s sperm

Your fertility doctor can also implant embryos in a surrogate (currently, we don’t have established governing laws in Kenya), or gestational carrier. This is usually a woman who carries the baby till birth for you.

The success rate of IVF varies depending on several factors such as age, previous pregnancies and body weight. It can also be determined by the IVF clinic of your choice as well as the quantity and quality of embryos that are transferred. Here in Kenya, Fertility Point has the highest IVF success rates of 65 % –which is way above the average national and global IVF success rates. The charges of IVF at the Nairobi based fertility clinic starts from Kes 450,000.

Why Is IVF Performed?

In Vitro Fertilization is highly recommended for couples struggling with fertility. Nevertheless, IVF can be costly and invasive depending on the fertility clinic of one’s choice. So many patients often try other fertility treatments first. This may include but not limited to taking fertility drugs or having intrauterine insemination (IUI). During that procedure, a doctor transfers sperm directly into a woman’s uterus.

Infertility problems that may require IVF treatment include:

  • Reduced fertility in women over the age of 35.
  • Reduced ovarian function
  • Damaged or blocked fallopian tubes
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Endometriosis
  • Male infertility, such as abnormalities in sperm shape or low sperm count
  • Unexplained infertility

At Fertility Point Kenya, patients are also at liberty to choose IVF if they run the risk of passing a genetic disorder on to their offspring. A test can be done in a medical lab for genetic abnormalities. Then, a doctor only implants fertilized eggs without genetic defects.

Preparing for In Vitro Fertilization

Before commencing the IVF process, a woman first undergoes ovarian reserve testing. This involves taking a blood sample and test the level of FSH – Follicle Stimulating Hormone. The test results give a fertility doctor information about the size and quality of the eggs in question.

A doctor will also examine the woman’s uterus. An ultrasound may be performed to create an image of your uterus. A doctor may also insert a scope through the vagina into the uterus. These tests are critical as they reveal the state of your uterus and help the physician to determine the best way to implant the embryos.

For men, they will need to undergo sperm testing. It entails collection of a semen sample. A state-of-the-art lab like that of Fertility Point Kenya will analyze the shape, size and quantity of the sperm. If the sperm are damaged or weak, a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be necessary. During ICSI procedure, a physician injects sperm directly into the egg. ICSI can be part of the IVF process.

Choosing to have IVF is a very emotional and personal decision. There are a number of critical factors to consider. They are:

  • How many embryos would you wish to transfer? The more embryos transferred, the higher the risk of a multiple pregnancy. Many doctors won’t transfer more than two embryos.
  • What will you do with unused embryos?
  • How do you feel about the possibility of having twins, triplets or multiple pregnancy?
  • What about the emotional and legal issues associated with using donated sperm, eggs, and embryo or a surrogate?
  • What are the financial, physical, and emotional stresses associated with IVF?

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