IVF Treatment - When mother nature needs a helping (medical) hand

Sometimes getting pregnant takes longer than expected. After trying for one year or even two years, it might feel right to seek out information about IVF treatment.

If you have come to this point, you should see your GP. They can arrange for you to have tests to check the levels of hormones in your blood and how well your ovaries are working. The man should also be tested, to rule out any problems with the sperm. IVF becomes less successful with age.

IVF is offered on the NHS in UK if certain criteria are met. If you don't meet these criteria, you may need to pay for private treatment. Ask your GP to find out what the criteria for NHS-funded IVF treatment are in your area. If you don't meet the criteria for getting this covered, you can do it privately at your own cost. It can cost at least £ 5,000 per cycle.

The Treatment

First, you suppress your natural menstrual cycle. This takes about 2 weeks. Then, you take a fetrility hormone for about 12 days. Then your ovaries will be checked and you will receive a hormone injection a few days before the eggs are due to be collected.

Collecting the eggs is the next step, a minor procedure that takes about 20 minutes. Then, the eggs are fertilised by the sperm in a laboratory. After 16 to 20 hours, they're checked to see if any have been fertilised. They will grow in the lab, and then one or two of the embryos will be transfered into the womb.

Then you have to wait for about two weeks to check if you are pregnant. For many, this waiting period is the most stressful part of the prosess. IVF is not always successful, and you should try to prepare for this. However, you can't predict your own emotions. It is important to have someone to talk to during this time.

Risks

If you are considering IVF it is important to be aware of the risks. These include medication side effects like hot flushes and headaches and feeling irritable, which is normal. A rare side effect, which can be painful and dangerous is Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. There is also an increased risk of getting twins, which again involves more risk.

If the treatment is successful, ultrasound scans will be carried out during the following weeks to check things are progressing as expected.