In vitro fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization means fertilization in the lab. IVF is most often offered to couples whose fertility is caused by female problems such as blocked fallopian tubes. It is also offered to couples who have ( up to now) no detectable cause of infertility ( i.e. unexplained infertility). It is not suitable for men with abnormal semen analyses or whose semen does not separate well in the lab.
IVF requires the woman to take fertility drugs to make her produce more than one egg in the month of treatment. To get the eggs (‘oocyte retrieval’) requires the woman to undergo a minor surgical procedure. Men produce a semen sample as for IUI. Sperm and eggs are brought together in the lab and the next day, they are checked to see if fertilization has occurred and any embryos have been formed. Embryos are allowed to develop in the lab for 2-3 days and then 1-2 embryos are gently inserted into the woman’s womb using a slim tube inserted through the vagina. If there are more than 2 embryos, the rest may be frozen for future treatment.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
This treatment is for couples where male infertility is a major problem and also for couples where IVF has not been successful. This technique allows just one sperm to be injected right into the egg. This method is ideal for men who have few sperm or sperm with low swimming power. ICSI helps the sperm by placing it inside the egg and making it easier for fertilization to occur. If the man has no sperm in his semen, it is often possible to get sperm directly from the man’s testis by a minor outpatient procedure. The sperm and egg are introduced in the lab and the rest of the treatment is the same as with IVF.