In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a process of fertilization by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. When the IVF procedure is successful, the process is combined with a procedure known as embryo transfer, which involves physically placing the embryo in the uterus. There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process which include the following:
- Monitor and stimulate the development of healthy egg(s) in the ovaries;
- collect the eggs;
- secure the sperm;
- combine the eggs and sperm together in the laboratory and provide the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth;
- transfer embryos into the uterus.
In Vitro Fertilization procedure has both advantages and disadvantages as most medical procedures. Among advantages are the fact that this treatment option gives women with blocked, damaged or missing fallopian tubes (the normal route for the egg to travel from the ovary to the uterus) a great chance to have a healthy baby. As for the disadvantages, it can be said that this procedure is not cheap. Secondly, it’s emotionally straining to go through this treatment. In addition, fertility drugs used to stimulate egg production themselves can have severe side effects.
Risk of multiple pregnancies and increased risk of miscarriage and other complications are present as well. Because the procedure often places more than one embryo in a woman’s uterus, there is a higher than usual chance of having twins or triplets. Around one in four couples who have had successful IVF treatment will have twins. In most cases children conceived by IVF are healthy.
However, these disadvantages can be considered only a drop in the bucket taking into account that conducting of any medical procedure involves some disadvantages. Nevertheless, everyone can go through these small disadvantages in order to reach the main goal – have a healthy child!
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. This procedure is most commonly used to overcome male infertility problems, although it may also be used where eggs cannot easily be penetrated by sperm, and occasionally in addition to sperm donation. Among advantages of the ICSI procedure can be named the next ones:
- ICSI may give you and your partner a chance of conceiving your genetic child when other options are closed to you;
- if your partner is too anxious to ejaculate on the day of egg collection for standard IVF, sperm can instead be extracted for ICSI;
- ICSI can also be used to help couples with unexplained infertility. Though experts haven’t found that ICSI makes pregnancy any more likely than standard IVF;
- ICSI doesn’t appear to affect how children conceived via the procedure develop mentally or physically.
There are also some disadvantages of ICSI procedure. In particular:
- ICSI has been in use for a shorter time than IVF. So experts are still learning about its possible effects;
- the same risks associated with standard IVF procedure, such as multiple births and ectopic pregnancy, apply to ICSI;
- ICSI is a more expensive procedure than IVF.
ICSI isn’t the solution to every male fertility problem. If your partner has a low sperm count as a result of a genetic problem, this could be passed on to any sons you have together. Your doctor will usually recommend that your partner has a blood test before you start the ICSI cycle. You and your partner should be offered counselling before and after taking the test to help you through both the decision and the process. You can find a counsellor specializing in fertility issues and treatments.