IVF – In Vitro Fertilisation
Pioneers in assisted reproductive technology, Monash IVF achieved Australia’s first IVF baby, the third in the world, in 1980. Today, we’re proud to lead the future of assisted reproductive healthcare. As technology continues to evolve, a couple’s chances of having a baby through IVF are better than ever.
8 Steps – the IVF Timeline
- IVF treatment cycle starts on Day 1 of your period
- Stimulating your Ovaries
- Egg Retrieval
- Sperm Collection
- Embryo Development
- Embryo Transfer
- Pregnancy Blood Test
An introduction to the IVF Process
In-Vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of Assistive Reproductive Technology. It is a medical procedure involving the monitoring and enhancing of a woman’s ovulation in order to remove the ova (eggs) from the uterus. Eggs from a patient are then fertilized outside of the body (in vitro) by sperm from a patient. One or more fertilized eggs are then transferred into the woman’s uterus, where successful implantations can lead to pregnancy and live birth.
We explain IVF as a medical process of combining sperm with eggs outside of the body to create a fertilized egg. This is performed under a microscope, in a petri dish, in the extremely clean conditions of a Monash IVF laboratory and clinical setting. The fertilized eggs can then be placed in the uterus of a patient. If successful, one or more fertilized egg will attach to the lining of the uterus and begin to grow, resulting in a pregnancy and in nine months later you’ll take home a baby. Approximately 30% of IVF cycles lead to one or more live births.
Stages in the IVF Treatment (actions taken by the specialist): During your IVF treatment, our fertility specialists, clinicians, and laboratory technicians will work together to provide you with the best chances of becoming pregnant.
There will be preparation work -our doctors will give you medication prescriptions and instructions for ovary stimulation; administered through self-injections prior to the IVF procedure.
Throughout the process, our doctors will also monitor the progress of your egg maturation and ovulation using blood tests and ultrasounds;
In the final steps, the doctors will perform egg and sperm retrieval, fertilization, and fertilized egg transfer.
Pre-treatment: We understand that Preparation for IVF can be emotionally and physically challenging for couples, especially for the female patient who will undergo and require daily hormonal injections, blood tests, and regular monitoring for approximately two weeks.
To begin an IVF cycle, the female patient receives daily injections of a synthetic hormone that blocks the GnRH release hormone (GNRH agonist or antagonist). This temporarily turns off the pituitary glands to control the ovulation cycle. Doctors will determine the optimal starting doses (150-300 IU) of this hormone for each patient based on several factors, including their age and indicators of the number of eggs in the ovaries. Our specialists will adjust the dosage as needed.
The patient will receive this hormone for about 10 days. After this, patients will begin ovary stimulation for an additional 14 days. This involves injections of either GnRH or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to induce “superovulation”, where ovaries release multiple eggs in order to increase the chances of successful fertilization.
During this period, your doctor will regularly monitor hormone levels and egg production, using blood tests and transvaginal ultrasound until a sufficient number of eggs have matured within the uterine follicles and are ready for collection. At this point, you will be given an additional hormonal injection of gCG to mature the eggs for final preparation. 36 hours later, the patient will be ready for egg retrieval.
During treatment: Once a sufficient number of eggs are produced, they are retrieved from the uterus for IVF. The doctor performs a minor surgical outpatient procedure called follicular aspiration. While you are sedated, the specialist will use a needle to collect the eggs through the cervix, using ultrasound to locate the eggs. Considered a minor surgery, this procedure has a short recovery period.
Sperm will be collected from the man either by masturbation or by a non-invasive outpatient procedure. This procedure may be required in men experiencing sperm blockage or sperm under-development.
The fertility specialist takes the sperm and combines it with the eggs in the lab to help the sperm fertilise the eggs for a 3-5 day period. Some specialists may use a very small needle under a microscope to inject the sperm directly into the egg, termed intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). One or more of the healthiest fertilized eggs (embryos) will be selected for implantation. Monash IVF will freeze your remaining embryos for the future.
The selected embryo(s) will be placed in the uterus of the female patient by the doctor. Using a thin tube through your cervix, the doctor places the embryo directly into your uterus. From this point, pregnancy will happen when an embryo successfully attaches to the uterus.
1 embryo, 1 healthy mum and 1 healthy baby
At Monash IVF, it’s a common practice to transfer one embryo at a time. We freeze remaining embryos using our advanced technology. These can be used in future treatment.
Post-treatment: The IVF and embryo transfer implantation procedures do not require a long recovery time. After the procedure, your doctor may advise you to avoid exercise, heavy lifting, or other strenuous activities for 1-5 days. Some women may also be recommended a few days of bed rest after implantation at your doctor’s discretion.
The Waiting Period: In about two weeks after your embryo transfer and implantation procedure, you’ll have a blood test to measure your levels of the hormone hCG, a hormone produced by your placenta and referred to as the ‘pregnancy hormone’.
hCG in your bloodstream usually indicates a positive pregnancy test. Your appointment will be coordinated by our fertility nurse; the nurse will let you know exactly when to have the blood test.
We understand the next stage from your embryo transfer to your pregnancy blood test is an anxious time for most couples. Talk with your fertility specialist; they can advise you about various coping strategies to put in place during this period.
Your IVF Questions Answered
Sometimes patients don’t know where to start and what questions to ask, and that’s perfectly ok. Ask us anything; we’re here to help and to navigate you through your next steps.
– Monash IVF Fertility Nurse Team
Get your top IVF questions answered by our expert fertility nurses. Schedule a free, 15-minute nurse chat over the phone, our fertility team will answer any questions you may have.
Common Questions About IVF?
You may want to know whether IVF is the right path for you. Each patient’s fertility journey is unique. In understanding your medical history and preliminary investigations, your fertility specialist will base your plan on your individual circumstance.
Our doctors may recommend IVF include if you have:
- fallopian tube damage/tubal factor/tubal ligation
- male infertility relating to sperm quality or quantity
- blocked fallopian tubes
- uterine fibroids
- polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
- advanced maternal age, 35 years+, making it less likely to conceive naturally
- unexplained infertility
- recurring miscarriage
- potential genetic issues where embryo screening may help
Yes. There are early intervention and less invasive procedures like Ovulation Induction and IUI. Your specialist doctor will consider the right options for you and prescribe the best course of treatment.
The side effects you experience during IVF treatment will depend on the specific medication/s your specialist has prescribed for you.
Day 1 of your period is the start of an IVF treatment and ends with your pregnancy blood test, approximately four weeks later. Each person’s experience is different. It is important to note that IVF may not work for you the first time and may take more than one round of IVF for to produce a successful pregnancy test.
The cost of IVF treatment depends on the doctor’s treatment plan prescribed for you. For more information about our treatment fees, click here.