Understanding IVF Treatment

Helping Couples to Conceive

For couples that are struggling to conceive a baby naturally, IVF, or in-vitro fertilisation, is the medical procedure of creating life in a test tube, before implanting the fertilised egg into the mother. This IVF treatment can increase the chances of having a child in couple who are having fertility problems.

How IVF Treatment Works

At the beginning of the IVF treatment, the woman is given a hormone that stimulates her ovaries to produce eggs. In a normal cycle, a woman will produce one egg, but by taking the hormone, she can hopefully produce up to 15 eggs. Once the eggs are ready for collection, the woman is sedated and a small procedure is undertaken so the doctors can collect the eggs. At some point, the man then produces a sperm sample.

In the most basic form, IVF means that the woman’s egg and man’s sperm are put together in a dish and the sperm then swims into the egg to fertilise it. If the sample taken from the man has a low sperm count, or are of poor quality, a specialist will inject the sperm directly into the egg, hopefully making the egg fertilised.

Once the eggs have been fertilised, they are kept in the dish for around three days. Then, one or two of the fertilised eggs are selected and are inseminated into the woman’s uterus. Hopefully from there everything will happen naturally, and two weeks later a pregnancy test is carried out to see if the IVF treatment was a success.

The fertilised eggs, or embryos that are left over are frozen at -80C (-112F), and can be kept that way indefinitely. If the first IVF treatment is not successful, the one of the frozen embryos can be defrosted and another insemination can be attempted. Approximately two out of three embryos survived the defrosting process.

IVFCredit: Wikimedia

The Success Rate of IVF

One of the main contributing factors in the ultimate success rate of IVF treatment is the age of the woman. Success rates can be as high as 30 to 40 per cent for a young recipient, while the success rate is less than 1 per cent for woman aged 45 or over. Roughly half of patients become pregnant within three IVF treatment attempts, and 65 per cent within six attempts.

IVF Facts

  • The world’s first IVF baby was Louise Brown, who was born in Great Britain on July 25th, 1978.
  • The first frozen embryo birth was at the Monash IVF Clinic in Melbourne, Australia in 1983.
  • The average cost to undergo IVF treatment can vary between 10,000 to 15,000 dollars. However, the price can change depending on where you live, the amount of medications you're required to take during the treatment, the number of IVF treatments you have, and whether or not your health care or insurance will cover any of the procedure costs. 
  • The success rate for IVF treatment is 29.4 per cent per egg retrieval. In any given month, a reproductively normal couple has a 20 per cent chance of becoming pregnant.