Understanding IVF and IUI
What is in vitro fertilization (IVF)?
Louise Brown was the first baby born through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in July, 1978 in Oldham, England. The pioneers Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe were behind this success, which evoked attention all over the world. It had taken 102 IVF-treatments to achieve the first pregnancy.
Today, IVF has became an increasingly important method for treatment of infertility . Since its introduction in the year of 1970s, IVF success rates have increased by leaps and bounds. From lower than 10 percent, it has now reached up to more than 80 percent, through innovative treatment procedures and advanced technologies. IVF works by using a combination of medicines and surgical procedures to help sperms fertilize an egg, and subsequently placed into the womb to establish into pregnancy.
5 steps of IVF:
Step 1: Stimulation of Ovaries
What is Stimulation?
Firstly, medications will be given to you (the female partner) to stimulate your ovaries to form multiple eggs. These medications are given daily as an injection in your abdomen, thigh or upper arm. Your doctor will determine the most appropriate dose for you and will inform you of the possible risks, side effects and benefits of these medications. The doctor will monitor this process with blood tests and ultrasound.
Step 2: Egg retrieval
Egg retrieval, or egg ‘pick up’ is the process where the eggs are collected from your ovaries. An anaesthetist will get you ready for a general anaesthetic. You’ll be asleep and the procedure takes about 15-20 minutes.
It’s a meticulous work where every millimetre counts and this is where the experience of our specialists pays off. You can’t see an egg with the naked eye as they’re contained in the fluid within the follicles in your ovaries. The specialist removes fluid from the follicles that may have an egg inside. Using ultrasound images as a guide, the specialist will insert a thin needle through the vagina and into the ovary and sacs (follicles) containing the eggs. The needle is connected to a suction device, which pulls the eggs and fluid out of each follicle, one at a time.
Step 3: Insemination and Fertilization
In the laboratory, the man’s sperm is placed together with the best quality eggs. The mixing of the sperm and egg is called insemination.
Step 4: Embryo Culture
If the sperm fertilises the egg, it becomes an embryo. Our scientists put the embryo into a special incubator where the conditions for growth and development are perfect. The specialist will observe the embryos for over 5-6 days. Unfortunately, not all eggs will fertilise and reach embryo stage.
Step 5: Embryo Transfer
Embryos are placed into the woman’s womb after egg retrieval and fertilization. The doctor inserts a thin tube (catheter) containing the embryos into the woman’s vagina, through the cervix, and up into the womb. If an embryo sticks to (implants) in the lining of the womb and grows, pregnancy occurs.
What is IUI?
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperms inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization. The objective of IUI is to increase the number of sperms that reach the fallopian tubes and increase the chance of fertilization. IUI provides the sperms an advantage by giving it a head start but still requires the sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own. It is a less invasive and less expensive option compared to In-Vitro Fertilization.
How Does IUI works?
Before IUI, ovulation-stimulating medications may be used, in which case careful monitoring will be necessary to determine when the eggs are mature. The IUI procedure will then be performed around the time of ovulation, typically about 24-36 hours after the surge in LH hormone that indicates ovulation will occur soon. A semen sample will be washed by the lab to separate the sperm from the seminal fluid. A catheter will then be used to insert the sperms directly into the uterus. This process maximizes the number of sperm cells that are placed in the uterus, thus increasing the possibility of conception. The IUI procedure takes only a few minutes and involves minimal discomfort. The next step is to watch for signs and symptoms of pregnancy.
What is the Difference Between an IUI and IVF?
The main difference between an IUI and IVF treatments are: IVF is a process involving egg stimulation, retrieval, fertilization outside of the human’s body and transfer them into the womb, whereas in IUI sperms are injected into a uterus to decrease the sperm’s travel time to the egg and with the hope that the sperm reach the egg and fertilization occurs.
The chance of pregnancy from IVF heavily depends on the age of the woman, the primary cause of infertility, and also depends on some factors related to the quality of the IVF laboratory whereas IUI is a fertility treatment where sperm is inserted directly into a woman’s uterus during ovulation; decreasing the journey for the sperm to the egg. During ovulation, the woman produces one egg that is picked up by the end of the fallopian tube where it waits to meet the sperm. An IUI deposits higher concentrations of good quality sperm close to where the egg is waiting which increases the chances that the egg and sperm will unite.
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Credit: Alpha IVF & Women’s Specialists