In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the fertilization of an egg (fertilization) outside the female body. For this purpose, usually after hormonal stimulation of the ovaries, several mature egg cells are removed from the ovary and brought together with the partner’s semen in a reagent dish (= in vitro ). After a few days, depending on the couple’s wishes, one to three embryos can be returned to the woman’s uterus.
In special cases it can be advantageous to cultivate the germinating embryos longer. So-called blastocysts then develop, which very often lead to pregnancy.
The term “artificial insemination”, which is often used, does not really hit the spot, as the actual fertilization process, i.e. the fusion of the two cell nuclei, takes place naturally.
In vitro fertilization process
There are essentially four treatment steps. Hormonal stimulation, egg retrieval, egg fertilization and embryo transfer. We explain these in more detail below. You can contribute to this in your everyday life so that the treatment is successful.
The hormonal stimulation of the ovaries causes several egg cells to mature and usually lasts 12-15 days. After detailed discussions and a precise diagnosis, an individual stimulation plan is drawn up for the patient. The use of modern medication enables precise planning of the stimulation process. In addition, individual organizational peculiarities of the couple (planned vacations, periods of professional stress …) can be taken into account. Most of the daily injections can be carried out comfortably at home using safe and simple “injection pens”. Daily attendance at the institute is not necessary.
REMOVAL OF THE EGG CELLS (FOLLICULAR PUNCTURE)
The egg cells are suctioned off using an ultrasound-controlled, gentle puncture method through the vagina. The procedure is carried out at the FROG on an outpatient basis and in a light sleep state, so that the removal of the eggs is almost completely painless for the patient.
During the puncture, the aspirated follicular fluid is examined for egg cells under the stereo microscope in the FROG laboratory. Each egg cell is assessed and then incubated in special culture media in the incubator. After careful processing of the sperm, it is brought together with the egg cells a few hours later. With IVF, the eggs and sperm are left to their own devices in the incubator. Since there is a sufficient amount of motile sperm, the egg cells are fertilized just like in the natural cycle. After 18 hours, the fertilization process is checked under the microscope. The fertilized egg cells can now either be incubated in the incubator until the planned transfer or frozen (cryopreserved) for later cycles.
The transfer of the embryos into the uterus takes place with a thin and soft catheter directly through the cervix into the uterine cavity. The transfer is completely painless for the patient and is carried out on an outpatient basis. Now the embryos have to implant themselves in the uterine lining.
WHAT THE PATIENT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUCCESS OF THE TREATMENT
The metabolism has an important influence on the hormonal balance. In particular, being very overweight or underweight should be avoided. The diet should be high in protein and vitamins. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat or fish, spread over several small meals a day are recommended. The need for sleep can increase, especially under hormone stimulation, so the patient should treat herself to the sleep she needs. Exercise should be moderate but regular and fresh air is also good. Alcohol should only be consumed in small amounts. Smoking has been shown to have a negative effect on fertility treatment. Nicotine consumption should therefore be reduced or, even better, given up entirely. The same applies to the partner. The above does not apply to sexual intercourse.