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In vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a form of assisted fertilisation. In this procedure, the egg and sperm cells do not merge inside the female body, but in a test tube in the laboratory instead. This is why this method is referred to as ‘in vitro’, which simply means ‘in glass’.

When is in vitro fertilisation useful?

IVF can be used, for example:

  • if a woman has obstructed fallopian tubes or none at all (tubal infertility),
  • if a man’s sperm quality is impaired
  • if the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus (endometriosis) or
  • if no cause for infertility is found during the diagnosis (idiopathic infertility).

What happens during in vitro fertilisation?

1. Hormone stimulation

The chance of a successful result with IVF is significantly increased if several eggs can be ripened at the same time (usually done with hormone stimulation). If this is no longer possible or desirable (advance age, limited egg reserves, sensitivity to hormones) IVF cycles can also be performed with one or a few eggs (“mild stimulation IVF”).

2. Retrieving and preparing the eggs

When the eggs are ripe, the doctor removes them under ultrasound guidance through a fine needle that is advanced into the ovary. During the egg retrieval process, fluid is aspirated from the follicles. This procedure usually only takes a few minutes. The woman can have a painkiller and a mild sedative prior to the procedure. The eggs that are retrieved are then prepared for fertilisation in the laboratory.

3. Sperm

The sperm cells from the sperm sample are washed in the laboratory. During this procedure, the motile sperm cells are separated from the non-motile and dead cells. If sperm cells are not found in the ejaculate, material obtained during testicular sperm extraction (TESE) can be used. If the partner has no sperm cells that can be fertilised, cryopreserved sperm from a sperm bank (donor sperm) can be used.

4. Fusion of the egg and sperm cells in the test tube

The washed sperm cells and the woman’s egg are fused in a test tube. They are cultured in a special nutrient solution. The sperm cells should fertilise the eggs independently and without further help. The day after egg retrieval, a check is done to see that the eggs were fertilised. The fertilised eggs develop into embryos that are stored in an incubator for up to five days.

5. Embryo transfer

When the embryos are ready, the doctor transfers one embryo into the womb as agreed with the patient and in accordance with the provisions of the law. A soft plastic catheter is used for this. Embryo transfer is painless and only takes a few minutes. The embryos can now implant in the endometrium and continue to develop.

A pregnancy test is done two weeks after embryo transfer to see if the procedure has been successful.

What are the chances of success for in vitro fertilisation?

The chance of a woman becoming pregnant through in vitro fertilisation is largely dependent on her age. The pregnancy rate for women aged 30 is about 40 percent per embryo transfer, whilst the chances for women aged 40 are just under 30%. On average, one in three procedures results in pregnancy.

If the fertilised eggs cannot be transferred, it is possible to freeze them (cryopreservation) for later use. This will save the woman from having to undergo hormone treatment and egg retrieval during the next attempt, for example.

Are there any risks or side effects of in vitro fertilitsation?

As with any medical procedure, in vitro fertilisation involves certain risks. Complications are rare – but they can be quite serious in individual cases. For example, the hormone treatment can sometimes have side effects – such as hyperstimulation syndrome. This can cause abdominal pain, nausea or shortness of breath, for example, and the risk of an ectopic pregnancy is slightly increased. When the eggs are removed, it is possible that organs may be accidentally injured, and even anaesthesia is never without risk. The physician treating you will be able to provide you with detailed information on the opportunities and risks of treatment, explain the course of treatment to you and discuss the possibility of a multiple pregnancy.

Further topics you might be interested in

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VivaNeo Stork København

☎ +45 70 60 60 90
copenhagen[at]vivaneo.dk

VivaNeo Ciconia Aarhus
☎ +45 86 27 76 26
aarhus[at]vivaneo.dk

Aalborg
☎ +45 98 14 45 55
faurskov[at]fertilitet-ultralyd.dk

Holbæk
☎ +45 59 44 13 01

Skive
☎ +45 97 51 04 00
mail[at]dr-rolighed.dk



We look forward to hearing from you!