If you’re of one the ‘one in six couples in South Africa’ who are having difficulty conceiving, IVF is a possible solution.
Who can IVF help?
It can often take from six months to a year to conceive naturally, and unless you have been actively trying for that length of time, or already know that you have fertility problems, it is best to try to relax and keep trying. After this time, talk to a specialist to find out if IVF may be able to help you. As a general guide, IVF may be suitable if you are experiencing one or more of the following:
- Blocked or diseased fallopian tubes
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Low sperm count
- Anti-sperm antibodies (these occur when the body becomes sensitised to sperm, causing an immune system response that destroys the sperm)
- Cervical mucous hostility (inability of sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus)
- Ovulation problems
- Failed alternative treatments
What does the IVF process involve?
- Down regulation – Drugs are taken to make the ovaries respond more effectively to fertility drugs.
- Stimulation of the ovaries using fertility drugs with the aim of producing around 10-15 eggs.
- Monitoring egg development using vaginal ultrasound scans. When the follicles are judged to be the optimum size, a different hormone will be injected to induce the final stage of egg maturation.
- Ultrasound guided egg collection usually under a light general anaesthetic or other sedation. During this stage, any eggs will be retrieved ready to be inseminated.
- Sperm collection. Your partner will be asked to produce a sample of sperm, or if you are using donor sperm, this will be used to inseminate your eggs.
- Fertilisation. Around 16-20 hours after insemination the first signs of fertilisation should be visible under a microscope. Any fertilised eggs will remain in culture for another day or so until they have grown into an embryo and are ready to be transferred back into your uterus.
- Embryo transfer. Embryos are transferred through the cervix into the uterus using a catheter. Usually, one to two are transferred to increase the chance of having a baby.
Don’t give up hope
Remember, conceiving isn’t always instant, so don’t worry if you’re still not pregnant after what may feel like a very long time trying. For every 100 couples trying to conceive naturally:
•84 will conceive within one year
•92 will conceive within two years
•93 will conceive within three years
But, if you’ve been struggling to get pregnant for more than a year, or are already aware that you may have fertility problems, speak to our team of fertility specialists to find out if there is anything that is preventing you from conceiving and how IVF could help you. You can reach Medfem on 011 463 2244.