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What to expect with IVF treatment

Every year at BMI we help more than 2000 couples who come to us with fertility problems. One of the many treatments we offer is In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), in which eggs are taken from the woman, and sperm from the man and fertilisation then takes place in the laboratory. The best embryos are selected and are then transferred to the woman’s uterus, using a very fine catheter through the cervix. Here we take you through the main stages and possible complications of IVF treatment:

1. Selecting The Right IVF Treatment

Depending on the likelihood of you growing eggs the consultant will prescribe your treatment. Some women start fertility drugs at the start of the cycle, others begin a week before their period.

2. Stimulation of the ovaries

An important part of IVF treatment is getting the eggs produced. We give you fertility drugs every day in order to stimulate the follicles to produce eggs.

Possible Complications. We may have to cancel a cycle of IVF treatment, either because there are too few or too many eggs. The most severe complication is called ovarian hyperstimulation, in which the ovaries produce a large number of eggs or high levels of oestrogen. This is closely monitored by the clinic.

3. Monitoring Egg Development

During the stimulation we monitor the growth of the follicles using a vaginal ultrasound scan. When the follicles reach optimum size the next stage of the IVF treatment is to give you a hormone, usually 36 hours before the planned operation below, to mature the eggs.

4. Ultrasound Scan Guided Egg-Collection

The eggs are collected by your consultant using ultrasound guidance. This can be done under general anaesthetic or sedation. This part of your IVF treatment usually takes about 20 minutes.

Possible Complications. On very rare occasions the procedure results in no eggs being collected. If this occurs, your consultant will discuss alternative treatments.

5. Sperm Collection

Your partner will be asked to produce a sample of sperm either before or after the egg collection depending on the time of the procedure. He shouldn’t have sex for 72 hours before the egg collection. In some cases, donated sperm is used for the fertilisation.

6. Fertilisation

Once the eggs have been collected they are incubated in a special laboratory culture medium. When it’s time for the insemination, prepared sperm are added to the eggs and about 16-20 hours later the first signs of fertilisation become visible under the microscope. The fertilised eggs then remain in culture until the second, third or fifth day after the eggs were collected. At this point they will have become embryos and will be ready to be transferred back into the uterus.

Possible Complications. In a small number of cycles the eggs may not fertilize. In this case on subsequent IVF treatment cycles ICSI may be performed where sperm are injected into the egg.

6. Embryo Transfer

We select the best embryos for transfer and place these in a catheter, which is inserted through the cervix into the uterus under ultrasound guidance. Our aim is to give our patients the best chance of having a healthy baby. Therefore, once an embryo has been chosen for transfer, we may freeze remaining embryos for possible use in future IVF treatment cycles.

For more information on fertility you can visit our dedicated section and download our guide to keep.

Ways to pay

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Pay for yourself

Pay for yourself with our fixed price packages. This includes your pre-assessment, treatment, follow-ups and six months of aftercare.

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Pay with health insurance

We are widely recognised by health insurers. Ask your insurer about your cover and for an insurer pre-authorisation code.

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Spread the cost

Pay for yourself with monthly repayments spread over 12 months, interest-free (terms and conditions apply)

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