How can IVF help you?
Our fertility treatments have helped thousands of people to start or grow their precious families. There are many different kinds of fertility issues that can make it difficult to conceive. It’s helpful to be aware of these issues and how IVF works to address these problems.
Fallopian Tube Damage
Some women have blocked fallopian tubes, which means that sperm are prevented from reaching the egg to fertilise it. IVF overcomes this problem as the eggs are fertilised with your partner’s or donor sperm in our laboratory. Your fertilised embryos are then carefully placed into the uterus through the cervix where they can implant and develop, so the fallopian tubes are bypassed all together.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue from your uterus implants and grows in other places in your body. This can cause scarring which might block your fallopian tubes. For people with endometriosis, a procedure known as a laparoscopy may improve your chances of a successful pregnancy. However, if you have damage to your fallopian tubes following this surgery then your doctor is likely to recommend IVF. Similarly, if your endometriosis is not severe enough for surgery but you haven’t conceived after an extended period of trying then you may also consider IVF.
Age and your eggs
Your 20s are, biologically speaking, your most fertile years. As you move into your 30s, and particularly your late 30s, your ovaries will age just like the rest of your body. Unfortunately the quality of your eggs will slowly start to deteriorate, which means that they are harder to fertilise. Your egg supply will also naturally decrease as you get older; women are born with their lifetime’s supply of eggs and your body cannot produce any more.
In a normal menstrual cycle you release one egg each month. With IVF, we can give you a course of fertility drugs that will stimulate your follicles in the ovary to produce a number of eggs. IVF can also be used to help women with poor quality eggs, allowing us to optimise embryo selection and increase your chances of pregnancy. For example:
- Blastocyst embryo transfer: a blastocyst is an embryo that has been developed for 5 or 6 days; at this stage it is much more advanced than a 3 day old embryo and a higher live birth rate is associated with this type of transfer.
- CAREmaps: CARE’s very own time lapse embryo imaging allows us to take photographs of your embryos every few minutes, without having to transfer them to a microscope. This gives our embryologists much more information about your embryos and we can then predict which embryos have the most potential to achieve a successful pregnancy.
- Pre-Genetic Testing: by [using PGT-a in IVF treatment, our embryologists have up to an 85% chance of singling out embryos with abnormalities before transfer, improving the chance of successful IVF treatment.
Ovulatory Issues (PCOS)
The process of maturing and releasing an egg – ovulation – can have a significant impact on fertility. There are a number of things which can interfere with this process including Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which, among other things, can cause irregular menstrual cycles. Women with PCOS may have difficulty getting pregnant because if an egg is not being released it will be impossible for one to be fertilised naturally. With IVF, we can develop a specific stimulation protocol for you to help optimise the number of eggs you produce in your cycle. IVF is a very successful treatment for women who have PCOS.
If you have concerns that PCOS is going to make it difficult for you to conceive, please try not to worry – most women who suffer from this condition go on to have successful pregnancies.
Male infertility is the leading cause of failure to conceive in up to 40% of couples. Problems can arise when either not enough sperm is being produced, or if the sperm is of poor quality. This might mean that the sperm has low motility or is abnormally shaped, both of which can affect the sperm’s ability to ‘swim’ as vigorously as it needs to.
During IVF treatment, we can use a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), where your sperm is injected directly into your partner’s eggs to fertilise them. This is the only difference between IVF and ICSI; whereas in IVF the sperm and eggs are mixed together in a dish and the sperm fertilises the egg ‘naturally’, during the ICSI procedure we inject a single sperm directly into the centre of the egg.
Where there is a sperm issue we would usually recommend using ICSI because it virtually guarantees that the sperm penetrates the egg. However, there is no significant difference in pregnancy rates between IVF and ICSI.
Same sex couples have a good chance of having a baby with fertility treatment because they are mostly not infertile. Female couples using donor sperm normally start their fertility treatment with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). It is a simple procedure carried out at the most fertile point in your menstrual cycle, which involves passing a sperm sample into your cervix for insemination. If IUI is not successful then the next step would most likely be an IVF cycle using donor sperm.
For male same sex couples wanting to start a family, surrogacy is a popular treatment. We create an embryo specially for you and replace it into another woman (known as a surrogate) for a pregnancy to develop. The surrogate will carry the pregnancy and give birth to the baby for the couple who wish to have a child.