The IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is the oldest method of assisted fertilization. The "classical" fertilization in the test tube was first used successfully in 1978. Simply pool eggs and sperm, but it is not enough. An IVF treatment consists of finely tuned steps. Read how IVF works, who it is and what its risks are.
What is the IVF?
"In vitro" refers to organic processes that take place outside the body. In this case, during the IVF treatment, the extracted egg cell comes together with the sperm of the man in the test tube. Only after successful fertilization (fertilization) outside the body are one or more fertilized eggs transferred to the uterus of the woman (transferred).
With the birth of today 38-year-old Louise Brown, the scientists Steptoe and Edwards in 1978 were the first time with the IVF success. At that time, however, the doctors removed the egg cell in a spontaneous menstrual cycle. Today, on the other hand, women's ovaries are mostly stimulated by hormones. As a result, several oocytes can mature and be removed at the same time.
How does the IVF work?
The IVF procedure can be roughly divided into the following sections:
- Hormonal stimulation of the ovaries
- Triggering ovulation (ovulation induction)
- egg retrieval
- IVF of the egg cells
- Cultivation of fertilized oocytes
- Insertion of the embryo (embryo transfer)
- Supporting the luteal phase (Luteal phase support)
At the beginning of in vitro fertilization, the ovaries of the woman have to be stimulated to mature with the help of hormones (gonadotropin). The doctor checks the course with the ultrasound machine. Once the eggs have matured, ovulation can be triggered artificially.
Subsequently, at best between five and ten oocytes can be removed via the vagina (transvaginal follicle puncture) and transferred into nutrient medium. There, the eggs then meet the fresh sperm of the partner, gained through masturbation.
After a day in the warm incubator, under the microscope, it can be checked whether the in vitro fertilization was successful. If this is the case, the female reproductive medicine can put a maximum of two fertilized eggs into the uterus after one to two days. To increase the success of implantation, the luteal phase is supported hormonally (progesterone).
The entire IVF process from stimulation to the onset of oocytes can take several weeks.
For whom is an IVF suitable?
IVF is suitable for couples with a woman with tubal obstruction, endometriosis or antibodies to the partner's sperm, or the sperm of the male being so poor that insemination has been unsuccessful.
IVF: chance for success
The fact that an IVF treatment today has significantly better success rates than in the past is mainly due to the removal of several oocytes or the ovarian stimulation with gondotrophins.
After in vitro fertilization, about 25 percent are pregnant. The success can be optimized by the doctor transfers several embryos. The pregnancy rate is then up to 60 percent. However, the pregnancy rate does not match the birth rate, which is slightly worse due to miscarriage and varies between 15 and 20 percent per treatment cycle.
Fertility disorders and the age of women contribute significantly to the success of in vitro fertilization: the older the woman, the worse the pregnancy rate.