KOCHI: Infertility is a global issue affecting approximately 13 to 14 per cent of the population worldwide resulting in close to one in six couples facing difficulty in conceiving. However, with a better understanding of human reproductive physiology and the availability of modern diagnostic technology, more and more couples are receiving the gift of parenthood.
The birth of Louis Brown, the world’s first IVF baby on July 25, 1978, revolutionised the management of infertility. Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), the broad spectrum of medical procedures used to treat infertility includes treatments that address complications of both the egg and sperm.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) or Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is done as firstline of treatment in cases concerning tubal pathology, severe male factor infertility azoospermia, fertility preservation in cancer patients, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and donor oocyte. IVF is also recommended for patients with ovulatory dysfunction (PCOS) and endometriosis.
Here are some FAQs about fertility treatment
What is the difference between IVF & ICSI?
Both are forms of In vitro fertilisation, differing in only the method of fertilisation in the embryology lab. In IVF, the sperms and the egg are allowed to fertilise in a small petri dish and this method is very similar to the natural form of fertilisation. IVF is deployed when sperm parameters are normal. ICSI is mainly for male factor infertility, where each egg is injected with the help of a fine needle with the sperm. ICSI is recommended when the sperm parameters are deranged in count, motility or morphology.
What is an IVF cycle?
During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilised with the sperm in a lab. Then, the fertilised egg (embryo) or eggs are transferred to a uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. Sometimes these steps are split into different parts and the process can take longer.
How many IVF cycles are recommended?
According to at least one study, women who conceived with IVF treatment went through an average of 2.7 cycles. They found that the odds for success—for women of all ages—after three IVF cycles were between 34 and 42 per cent. Practically speaking, to improve your odds, you should try for at least three IVF cycles.
How painful are IVF injections?
First of all, not every woman finds the shots painful, so that is something to keep in mind. For most patients, the injections aren’t pleasant, but they are quick and any discomfort is over in a few seconds. Most of the medications you will take during IVF are administered this way, usually with an injection pen.
How many times can I try IVF?
Studies examining the likelihood of pregnancy after multiple IVF attempts show varied results, with some suggesting that three rounds are the optimal maximum, given the emotional and financial strain that IVF can cause. Financial limitations aside, it may be worth continuing beyond three cycles.
Tips to improve IVF success rate
●Maintain a healthy weight.
●Eat fertility-enhancing foods which are rich in antioxidants like leafy greens (good source of iron and folate), fruits, nuts and grains.
●Partner with a good doctor and embryology laboratory.
● Quit smoking and drinking.
● Consider taking supplements in consultation with your doctor.
● Ensure you have adequate levels of vitamin D.
● Focus on persistence and patience.
● Practice breathing exercises.
Dr Meera B is a consultant at KIMS Centre for Fertility, KIMS Thiruvananthapuram. (The views expressed are her own)