In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is designed to help people who are struggling to conceive naturally. It is a procedure in which an egg is fertilised in the laboratory. Embryos that are created following IVF are then transferred, normally one at a time, into the female patient’s womb to either implant and develop or frozen for transfer in a later, non-stimulated cycle.
IVF treatment can take place using the patient’s own eggs and sperm or with the use of donor eggs or donor sperm. The Sussex Downs Fertility Centre provides IVF treatment for women and couples struggling to conceive and for same-sex couples and single women using donor sperm.
Is IVF suitable for me?
The best way to determine if you are a candidate for IVF is to discuss the infertility difficulties you are facing with your doctor. If you have experienced one of the following you may require fertility treatments:
Blocked or diseased fallopian tubes
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Low sperm count
Cervical mucous hostility (inability of sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus)
Failed alternative treatments
6 Steps of the IVF Treatment Journey
Initial Consultation & Scan
Come in for an initial consultation and scan where one of our IVF Consultants will assess you and devise a personalised treatment plan which will give you the best chance of success.
Two weeks before the start of your period you will come in to meet with a fertility nurse who will talk you through your treatment plan and go through the consent forms with you.
Scan & Blood Tests
You will have two or three monitoring scans usually spaced says apart; each takes 20 minutes. The doctor may perform blood tests at these appointments.
This procedure is performed in the theatre under sedation and takes around 45 minutes.
The embryo transfer is a quick and easy procedure which does not need sedation and feels similar to a smear test.
We will invite you back to the clinic for a pregnancy blood test and give you the test results by the end of the day.
What are the risks involved?
IVF does not always lead to a pregnancy. Success rates can vary depending on a number of factors, which your consultant will discuss with you. IVF can also be physically and emotionally demanding. Counselling will always be offered to patients to help them through the process. Additional risks include:
Multiple pregnancies – There is an increased chance of having multiple pregnancy (i.e. twins or triplets) with IVF if more than one embryo is replaced.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) – This is a medical condition affecting the ovaries of some women who take fertility medication to stimulate egg growth. Most cases are mild, but rarely the condition is severe and can lead to serious illness. Your centre will monitor the growth of the eggs to identify if you may be at risk.
Ectopic pregnancy – There is a slight increased risk of having an ectopic pregnancy while undergoing IVF treatment. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo grows in the Fallopian tubes instead of the womb.
IVF drug side effects – The drugs prescribed as part of IVF treatment may have some side effects. These can differ for each patient, but common symptoms include hot flushes, nausea, migraines and shortness of breath.
What to expect
IVF or ‘in-vitro’ treatment means ‘in glass’, which is where the term ‘test tube baby’ originates. However, no test tubes are involved in the process. In closely controlled laboratory conditions our skilled embryologists mix the sperm and eggs together until the eggs are fertilised. Once the eggs are fertilised, the embryos are then carefully incubated and the best embryo’s are selected for transfer into the womb a few days later. The remaining embryos can be frozen at this point.
What does IVF involve?
IVF treatment encompasses a number of procedures referred to as the ‘treatment cycle’. All IVF treatments begin with hormone therapy to stimulate the ovaries to develop more follicles than usual. These hormone injections are self-administered with injections, and the cycle is monitored by our experienced team to ensure that ovulation is triggered at the right time.
Ovulation is triggered by another hormone, called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). The eggs are then collected and fertilised. Egg collection is relatively quick and painless, and general anaesthetic is not normally required.
Once the resulting embryos have grown and developed in-vitro, under the supervision of the embryologist, the best are transferred into the uterus through the vagina. Ideally, the embryo then implants to become a pregnancy, but this does not happen in all cases. That is why surplus embryos are frozen so that another transfer can be attempted without having to complete the hormone therapy again.
In some instances, the transfer may be left a few days later so that the embryo can reach an advanced stage of development and becomes a blastocyst.
What should I expect from IVF treatments?
IVF is an ongoing process for a some of weeks, and can be emotionally and physically draining. For the best chance of success, you must be healthy and stressful before and during the treatment cycle.
You will need to visit the fertility centre for check ups, consultations, and treatment. During this time, it’s also extremely important that you eat well, avoid smoking/alcohol, and remain relaxed so that your body is receptive to the treatment. We can offer counselling for patients to support you remain calm and understand how your body is reacting to the hormone treatments.
What are the risks of IVF?
One of the most widely reported risks is multiple pregnancies. That is why we only implant 1-2 embryos at a time and freeze the remainder.
There is also a very small risk (1-2%) relating to the hormone drugs, which can cause an adverse reaction in a very small percentage of women. Ultrasound and hormone monitoring during the treatment ensure that any overreaction is monitored and dealt with before the issue develops.
The Sussex Downs Fertility Centre has an outstanding IVF success rate
Our IVF success rates are outstanding when compared to the national average. We advise that you read through our success rates pages and the HFEA website to get an idea of the different ways the statistics could be produced. Success rates vary according to age, health, and reason for infertility.
Our success rates are due to the expert care delivered by the team, ongoing monitoring and experienced healthcare professionals in fertility.