What is IVF?
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is the most commonly used of the assisted reproductive technologies (ART). IVF literally means “fertilisation in glass” (referring to the test tube, which is where the term “test tube baby” comes from).
During IVF, eggs are collected from the ovaries and fertilised in the laboratory with sperm. After a number of days, the fertilised eggs (embryos) are transferred to the female patient’s womb to develop and grow.
Aevitas fertility specialist (Professor Thinus Kruger) research and fertility treatment resulted in the birth of South Africa and Africa’s first “test tube” (IVF) baby in 1984. This event opened a new era in reproductive medicine, not only in South Africa but also on an international front.
When is IVF appropriate?
Originally IVF was prescribed for women with blocked fallopian tubes. Laboratory techniques have improved drastically over recent years. Now IVF is used to treat:
- unexplained infertility
- If other treatments such as intra-uterine insemination (IUI) have been unsuccessful.
- male sub-fertility (ICSI is recommended in more severe cases of male infertility).
What to expect during a typical IVF treatment cycle:
To get started, our team of gynaecologists and specialist nursing sisters will work with you to plan your treatment cycle.
Step 1: Hormone treatment
Hormone treatment is used to boost the development of several follicles containing eggs. With more fertilised eggs, the clinic has a greater selection of embryos that can be used.
Step 2: Ultrasound scan
Your ovaries will be monitored by vaginal ultrasound scan on certain days of your cycle. Blood tests may also be required. Regular ultrasound scans monitor the progress, as well as the response of your ovaries.
Step 3: Hormone injection
You’ll receive a final hormone injection (hCG/ Ovitrelle) about 36 hours before the eggs are retrieved. This injection triggers the final maturation of the eggs.
Step 4: Egg retrieval
The eggs are retrieved from the ovaries under intravenous sedation, administered by an anaesthetist. A special aspiration needle is introduced through the vagina and under ultrasound guidance, the eggs are carefully collected. After the procedure, you’ll be offered a cup of tea and a sandwich and will then be able to go home. It is important to have someone with you to take you home.
Step 5: Fertilisation
The eggs are mixed with the sperm, and placed in an incubator so that fertilisation can occur overnight. The procedure is performed by an embryologist (scientist) in our IVF laboratory.
Step 6: Record fertilisation
The embryologist monitors the eggs daily to record fertilisation as well as embryo development.
Step 7: Embryo transfer
Embryo transfer into the uterus is usually done on the third to fifth day after the eggs have been retrieved. The optimum day for embryo transfer is determined according to the number and quality of the embryos. One or more embryos are transferred into the female partner’s womb. No sedation is needed for this procedure, which is very similar to IUI or to having a cervical smear taken. A fine catheter is gently threaded into the cervix and the embryo is placed in the cavity of the uterus. Ultrasound is often used to confirm the placement of the catheter.
Step 8: Pregnancy test
A blood pregnancy test is done on the 10th day after embryo transfer to confirm the outcome.
Number of visits to clinic: 5 – 7 per cycle.
On the same day that the eggs are collected, you will be asked to produce a fresh sample of sperm using one of our private facilities. The sperm is then washed, the healthiest and most active sperm are selected.