IN VITRO FERTILIZATION (IVF)
In Vitro Fertilization, as known as IVF, is a procedure by which a woman’s eggs are extracted
from her ovaries and fertilized by her partner’s sperms in the laboratory. The resulting embryos
are incubated for three to five days and are then transferred into the uterus or cryo-preserved for
a future cycle.
A woman undergoing IVF will have her ovaries stimulated with Gonadotropin subcutaneous
injections (GNT’s) to produce a sufficient amount of eggs. She will be closely monitored
through her cycle with blood work and ultrasound to determine the optimal time for the retrieval
of her eggs. When her eggs reach maturity, she is given a subcutaneous injection called
“Ovidrel” (or HCG) which will begin the process of ovulation. After 35 hours, she will undergo
intravenous sedation and her eggs will be retrieved through needle aspiration in the operating
room located in our clinic. Her partner will provide a sperm sample which will be used to
fertilize her eggs immediately following the retrieval.
Couples diagnosed with any of the following may benefit from IVF treatment:
- Damaged, blocked or previous ligation of fallopian tubes
- Male factor (including low sperm count or previous vasectomy)
- Advanced maternal age (over 38 years old)
- Reduced ovarian reserve (low quality or quantity of eggs)
- Severe Endometriosis
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Unexplained Infertility
The first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in England in 1978. Since then, there have been
approximately eight million children born through In Vitro Fertilization and other assisted
IVF involves several steps
1. Study and preparation of the patients.
2. Ovarian stimulation.
3. Egg retrieval.
4. Laboratory fertilization: Oocytes, spermatozoid and embryo culture.
5. Embryo transfer to the recipient mother.
1. Study and Preparation of the patients
This process ensures that IVF is the correct solution to the patients’ infertility problems and that
they are physically and psychologically ready to begin the cycle. If this is not the case, the
patients are offered other treatment options.
2. Ovarian stimulation
In order to maximise the possibility of pregnancy, we need to obtain more than one oocyte,
which is the number a woman’s ovary normally produces. In order to stimulate the production of
several oocytes and guarantee their quality, we provide a combination of medicines whose
response is monitored with vaginal ultrasound scans and occasionally blood tests.
The whole process lasts approximately between 8 and 12 days, depending on each case. The
treatment can be cancelled if a low ovarian response is observed.
3. Oocyte retrieval
Once the oocytes are mature, we retrieve them with the guidance of a vaginal ultrasound scan
under local anaesthesia and light sedation so that it is a completely painless. This process only
takes 15 minutes and does not require an operation, being hospitalised, stitches or the use of
4. Laboratory fertilization
The retrieved eggs are taken into the IVF laboratory where they are prepared for insemination.
At the same time, the semen is activated to improve its fertilization potential. Oocytes and
spermatozoids are placed together for several hours within an incubator which provides the ideal
conditions for fertilization to take place and the subsequent development of pre-embryos. The
number of fertilization eggs will not be known until the next day but the overall fertilization rate
is 80 to 90%. For this reason several embryos usually develop.
5. Embryo transfer
The embryo culture stage can last between two and five days. This enables us to observe the
embryo development in order to select the ones with the highest quality. Nature will reject the
weaker ones. In general, during a longer culture period, there are fewer viable embryos but they
are of much better quality than the embryos achieved during a short culture period.
The implantation rate, meaning the percentage of embryos that take hold in the uterus, is
generally between 40 and 50%. In order to avoid multiple pregnancies we often propose
transferring two to three embryos depending on the age of the patient and freezing the rest. The
embryos are placed in the uterus through a quick and painless procedure.
Once gestation has been attained, the pregnancy will develop normally without requiring
special controls, except for the usual attention that is paid to highly desired pregnancies. Please
note that the possibility of miscarriage, malformations, etc. is the same as for naturally-achieved
If the treatment ends and pregnancy has not been achieved, the Reproduction Committee,
represented by the team in charge of the particular case, will re-evaluate the situation in order to
advise the patients on the subsequent steps to be taken. For this purpose, we conduct a personal
interview with the couple.