You have always wanted to have a child, but your body hinders you from having one. Whether or not you have a partner now, the thought of becoming a parent excites and warms your heart. So you decide to undergo in vitro fertilisation. Here we will tackle details on how the process begins until your IVF egg collection, where a different story will start to unfold.
IVF egg collection: Before the retrieval
So you have decided to undergo an assisted reproductive technology procedure known as IVF. You consulted a well-known fertility specialist, and he advised you on the risks and benefits this procedure may involve. Once you are amenable with this information, your doctor would request you to have various screenings and testings done, which include the following:
- Ovarian reserve testing
- Semen analysis if you have a male partner
- Infectious disease screening
- Uterine cavity examination (through sonohysterography or hysteroscopy)
These tests will give baseline information on the status of your reproductive health and your partner’s. The results of these screenings will determine the next steps that your fertility specialist may recommend to ensure a higher chance of becoming pregnant.
On a usual reproductive cycle, one mature egg is produced per month. When you decide to undergo IVF, the process would include ovarian stimulation so that multiple eggs are produced in one cycle. To do this, your doctor recommends various medications depending on your condition and your needs. Injectable hormones for ovarian stimulation, egg cell maturation, prevention of premature ovulation, and ovarian lining preparation are some examples of medicines that a woman should take before IVF egg collection.
Sometimes, an IVF cycle may be cancelled or postponed even during this early step. Some women fail to respond well with the stimulation and produced a lower number of follicles or egg cells, while some were over-stimulated but developed immature eggs. These circumstances need further diagnostics and testing until the fertility specialist gets the correct way of stimulating your ovaries to produce quality eggs.
IVF egg collection: The process
About 34 to 36 hours after the final dose of the ovarian stimulating medication, the patient becomes ready for egg collection. The doctor would advise you to fast the night before the procedure. He will also discuss the use of sedation and pain medication during the egg cell collection.
During the procedure, while being sedated, ultrasound to visualise the ovaries is utilised. Eggs are collected from the follicles via a thin needle attached to a suction device. These harvested eggs are placed in a culture medium with nutritive content to keep them healthy.
IVF egg collection: After the procedure
After the egg retrieval, storage would depend on the next steps you would want to take.
- If you are planning to push through with the IVF procedure as scheduled, the egg cells get mixed by the sperm cells of your partner or a donor to initiate fertilisation.
- If you want to preserve your eggs for future use, the eggs are frozen and stored using vitrification or cryopreservation.
Before you leave the clinic or doctor’s office, the fertility specialist will let you know about the number of the eggs harvested. And you can expect a call within the next 24 hours from the laboratory about the exact number of viable eggs collected. This way, you would not get too hung up and worried about the quality and quantity of your eggs until your next doctor’s appointment.
Starting a family takes work. Ways on how to start a family are aplenty and a big decision in itself, so choosing the correct and safe way to do so is essential. Discuss all your concerns and questions with your fertility specialist so that you can arrive at an informed and educated decision on how to push through with your family planning.