What does ‘in vitro?’ mean?

In vitro means ‘in glass’: this is a good description of a procedure that takes place in an artificial environment, which in this case is a laboratory. Many people have assumed that it is carried out in a test tube which led to the term ‘test tube baby’.

What can IVF treat?

IVF can treat any of the following:

  • Infertility due to age (conception is more difficult for the older woman)
  • Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
  • Hostile cervical mucus

And male infertility problems as well which include a low sperm count, damage to the male reproductive organs or a hormone complaint.

IVF overview

The woman is prescribed multiple injections of fertility drugs to boost ovulation. Her eggs are then extracted and combined with sperm under controlled conditions (laboratory). They are left to develop into embryos before being implanted into the woman’s uterus.

IVF success rates

These are still open to discussion. Debate still rages on about this treatment with supporters claiming it is the best infertility treatment whereas opponents point to complications and failure rates.

On the average there is a 20 to 30% chance of success with IVF with fresh embryos. This rate does drop to around 12% with frozen embryos. Age is a big factor with younger women doing better than older women when it comes to success rates. Around 1 in 4 women (aged under 30) successfully conceive with IVF as compared to 1 in 10 women over 40.

There is no guarantee of success with this procedure and a treatment cycle can fail as a result of the following:

  • Poor quality eggs and sperm
  • Failure with extracting eggs
  • Failure during implantation of the embryos
  • Age

Other factors that influence these rates include having a normal pregnancy before or a successful IVF assisted birth; and the choice of clinic for IVF treatment.

It may sound strange but the level of skill and expertise in the clinic; the type of equipment used and the embryo implantation procedure can affect your chances of success.

In vitro fertilisation Treatment Guide Index:

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