So you have been trying to get pregnant for more than two years, your GP referred you for fertility tests, the results have come back and you are referred for IVF treatment.
What happens next? We explain the IVF journey.
Every fertility journey is unique and the treatment is personalised, but once you are referred for IVF treatment there are some steps that are the same for most patients.
We have created a short video to show the pathway, and patients are sharing their individual experiences to help others navigate the IVF journey.
- Katy was concerned about the medication, especially the injections – read her story (in five parts)
Bourn Hall hosts a Fertility Support Group that is run by an independent fertility counsellor and is open to everyone on the fertility journey. Knowing that others are going through similar experiences can be reassuring and people often find likeminded individuals keen to talk outside of the meetings.
What is IVF?
For a small number of people with fertility problems, IVF (In vitro fertilisation) will be recommended to help them to have a baby.
During IVF, the ovaries are stimulated to increase the number of eggs produced. These are collected and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory. One of the fertilised eggs, called an embryo, is then transferred to the woman’s womb to grow and develop.
IVF can be carried out using your own eggs and your partner’s sperm, or eggs and sperm from donors.
Major steps in the IVF journey
Step 1: Initial consultation
Step 2: Medication and monitoring – naturally you would only produce one ‘ripe’ egg each month, but many more are needed for IVF. Medication is used to first stop your natural cycle and then stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. The developing eggs are in follicles that can be seen in an ultrasound scan.
Step 3: Egg collection and fertilisation in the lab – the eggs are collected using a needle which is inserted into the ovaries. The eggs are mixed with a sperm sample in the lab. The fertilised eggs are called embryos and these are kept in the incubator for up to five days, where their progress is monitored carefully.
Step 4: Embryo transfer – the best quality embryo(s) is selected for transfer to the womb. If there are others of suitable quality then these are frozen for further treatment or for siblings in the future.
After embryo transfer comes the longest two weeks of your life, as you wait to see if the treatment has worked using a home pregnancy test.
Step 5: Pregnancy test – this can be a home test after 14 days, followed by a scan a few weeks later at the clinic to confirm a clinical pregnancy – this is when the embryo implants in the lining of the womb and starts to develop into a foetus.
The initial consultation is with a highly experienced fertility consultant, who analyses the results from any tests you may already have had, assess your medical background, talk through your treatment options and prepare a personalised treatment plan.
Relevant fertility tests may include blood tests to check your hormone levels, a semen analysis to look at sperm health, and an ultrasound scan of your pelvis.
Currently, we offer IVF consultations and treatment planning via secure video call, using Teams, which enables you to talk directly to our specialist doctors from the comfort of your own home using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Excellent IVF success rates
Bourn Hall’s IVF success rates are excellent: in 2021, 56% of patients aged 37 and under having IVF with ICSI with a blastocyst (5-day embryo) transfer achieved a pregnancy, which is higher than the national average.
Your own chances of success will depend on your age, medical history and test results and it may be possible to provide a more personalised indication of your chances of success with IVF.