Speaking about her fertility challenges and her journey with In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to try and get pregnant, former US First Lady Michelle Obama has helped to shine a light on the experience of many women.
The former first lady of the United States, 58, revealed that she secretly conceived her two daughters several years ago through the process, admitting: “I was trying to get pregnant. It was a challenging road for me, the baby-making road”.
Similarly Jennifer Anniston said recently she was going through IVF and was drinking herbal teas. She said that she was throwing everything at it and almost gave up. She said that she would have given anything if someone had told her to ‘freeze’ her eggs.
IVF is a fertility treatment procedure that can help with conception if you are having problems conceiving. During the process, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a lab.
Once fertilised, the egg is called an embryo, and is returned to the womb to grow and develop, just as with a normal pregnancy. It can either be carried out using your own eggs and your partner’s sperm, or with eggs and sperm from donors.
This is different to egg freezing, when they aren’t mixed with sperm, but instead stored to be used in the future. Freezing healthy sperm or eggs while you are young can increase the chances of successful fertility treatment later on.
Especially in today’s scenario when the girls are busy studying ,making careers and postponing pregnancy to a later date ,it is very important to understand that every woman is born with certain number of eggs which go on finishing with age .It is not only the number but the quality of eggs reduces with age, making it difficult for them get pregnant past 40 years. So young girls not planning pregnancy in the near future must freeze their eggs as soon as possible.
I have done many successful egg freezing cases at Myra IVF and Medical Centre, Westlands, Nairobi and many women have become pregnant.
What happens during IVF?
If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, your first port of call is to speak to a fertility specialist, who can advise on how to potentially improve your chances.
The process has six main stages, which include:
1. Helping your ovaries produce more eggs
You’ll be given fertility hormones to help your ovaries produce more than one egg at a time. This is with the aim of collecting and fertilising more eggs, increasing the choice of embryos to use in the procedure.
There are different kinds of protocols used for getting good number of eggs from different category of patients and all the latest and best evidence based protocols including Minimal stimulation protocol and Pre Implantation genetic screening testing, Laser Hatching, PRP treatments and TESA among others are available at Myra IVF and Medical center.
3. Monitoring your progress and ‘maturing’ your eggs
The development of your eggs will be checked with vaginal ultrasound scans every 3/4 days and dose of injections is adjusted accordingly to prevent any hyperstimation and sometimes blood tests.
Ours is a OHSS free clinic as we use the latest protocols to see that stimulation is safe for all patients
4. Collecting eggs
Your eggs will be collected with a needle passed through your vagina under short anesthesia and into each ovary, with the help of an ultrasound, taking around 15 to 20 minutes.
You’ll be sedated during the collection, but might experience cramps or a small amount of vaginal bleeding afterwards.
5. Fertilising eggs
This is when the eggs are mixed with the sperm in a lab to fertilise them. Sometimes, each egg might need to be injected individually with a single sperm, called intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI (advanced form of IVF to get more embryos)
The embryos will then continue to grow in the lab for up to three -five days before being transferred into the womb, with one or two of the best chosen.
You’ll have been given hormone medicines to help prepare the lining of the womb to receive the embryo.
The extra embryos generated are frozen for future use.
6. Transferring embryos
When the embryos are placed into your womb, this will be done with a thin tube called a transfer catheter.
The procedure is more similar to having a cervical screening, or smear test, and you won’t need to be sedated. The number of embryos that will be transferred should have been decided before starting treatment, which can be dependent on your age and which IVF cycle you’re in.
If any healthy embryos are remaining, they can be frozen for other attempts.
After embryo transfer, you should wait around two weeks to have a pregnancy test to see if it has worked.
The chances of success of IVF depends on age, and the cause of infertility and other associated conditions. While it is possible and a great option for some, in many cases it is also unsuccessful, and you might wish to wait a couple months before trying again, as it can be a difficult emotional journey.
There are a few risks of IVF to consider too, including side effects from medicine, multiple births and other complications which can be taken care of by close monitoring and using appropriate drugs for each patient.
Experts also recommend counselling should be offered before, during and after IVF, regardless of outcome to help you understand the implications of treatment and provide support at difficult times. This type of talking therapy will allow you to confidentially discuss your problems and feelings.
IVF can be a challenge both physically and mentally, but there is help and support out there if you need it.
And we are happy to help!
Dr Sarita Sukhija is Medical Director and IVF Expert, Myra IVF and Medical Centre Email [email protected]/[email protected]