Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) is the method used when a woman has unexplained infertility, mild male factor infertility or if her partner has mild erectile dysfunction. At Advanced Centre for Reproductive Medicine – Gynaecology, Fertility & Urogynaecology, this procedure is usually offered to help increase the number of motile sperms available for fertilization.
“In vitro” means “in a glass.” The expression refers to an artificial environment outside of a living organism as opposed to “in vivo,” which means within a living organism, such as humans and animals.
So IVF stands for “In Vitro Fertilization.” It is actually short for “In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer,” the combination of which is more commonly known as “In Vitro Fertilization.”
IVF can be explained as a process that involves the combination of egg cells (oocytes) with sperm cells outside of the body. This results in fertilized embryos. The earliest attempts at IVF involved combining oocytes with sperm in test tubes and then transferring some of these early embryos into a woman’s uterus through a catheter.
These are the popular types of IVF: Natural cycle IVF or Standard Stimulated Cycle, and Low Stimulus/Natural Cycle IVF. In Natural Cycle ICSI, the general idea is that we try to get you pregnant with less medication than usual.
We use medications just enough to help you respond well and produce a good number of eggs. When the time comes for egg retrieval, we will try to fertilize your eggs but with less medication than usual so that they are more likely to be normal embryos. If it works out, then there is no need for IVF in Singapore. This can help save some thousand dollars per cycle which are commonly spent on stimulating medications alone.
What Are The Advantages Of IVF?
IVF has good success rates so are the advantages. If you’re contemplating this fertility treatment, here are some of the advantages you can expect from IVF.
- IVF can be helpful for women who have ovaries that do not naturally produce eggs or produce few eggs.
- For many conditions that cause infertility, IVF offers the best chance of becoming pregnant.
- Medications may be used to control when and how many eggs are produced, and they help stimulate changes in hormones that trigger their release.
Just like with any treatment, IVF also comes with risks which are considerable. Nonetheless, it is prudent that you be aware of them before proceeding with the treatments. Basically, you can expect the doctor helping you with IVF in Singapore to explain not just the benefits but the risks as well so you can make an informed decision. Here are the risks you may need to be aware of:
- A major IVF procedure can increase the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is a condition caused by the overproduction of female hormones. It causes bloating, abdominal discomfort and shortness of breath. Mild cases may be treated with rest and IV fluids, but more severe OHSS may need a blood transfusion or hospitalization for intensive treatment. Sometimes surgery is necessary to drain excess liquid from around the lungs. Symptoms usually go away within one to two weeks after stopping fertility medications.
- All medications used in an IVF cycle can cause side effects; some women experience mood swings, cramping, hot flashes, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and vomiting on these drugs. Severe reactions are very rare but talk to your doctor about the side effects of any medications you are taking.
- IVF can result in multiple births if more than one embryo is transferred or if more than one baby develops during pregnancy. The vast majority of twins and many triplets are born as a result of IVF. This means that not only do mothers have to recover from pregnancy, but they must also recover from giving birth to two or three babies at once!
Minimizing Risks of IVF
There are a few simple things you can do to minimize the risks of IVF in Singapore. The very basics is choosing the right doctor which is one of the most important steps you can take when considering fertility treatment.
It should be someone you trust and who has extensive experience in helping couples just like you achieve their goals of having a baby. Ideally, they should be board-certified reproductive endocrinologists who have extensive experience in all types of fertility treatments. They should be supported by highly trained staff with expertise in assisted reproductive technologies and the clinic should also be accredited.
How IVF is Done
The process of IVF in Singapore isn’t really complicated. If you’ve been approved for this fertility treatment, here are some of the things you can expect.
- The eggs will be retrieved from the ovary by a minor surgical procedure performed under sedation. This is called an ovarian “stimulation.” Medications are used to stimulate the growth of multiple eggs in the ovaries. As the eggs mature, they develop within fluid-filled sacs or structures in the ovary called follicles. Doctors count each distinct immature egg as one “mature” egg when evaluating how many eggs have developed. So if 12 follicles are seen on ultrasound, this means that up to 13 eggs could be retrieved through the needle being used for aspiration (egg retrieval). During some cycles, doctors may choose to perform a “stimulated cycle,” which means that the woman may receive daily injections of hormones for one to two weeks.
- During an IVF cycle, a woman will be given fertility medications to make more eggs and more sperm than regular ovulation. These medications work by stimulating the ovaries to produce multiple eggs during a single menstrual cycle. Depending on your response to these medications, you may give yourself injections at home or visit our office during the week so that we can monitor your progress with blood tests and ultrasounds.
- Your partner will need to ejaculate sperm into a sterile cup at the time of egg retrieval so that we can use it for fertilization in the laboratory. If necessary, your partner will be asked to refrain from ejaculation for approximately one or two days before egg retrieval.
- Your eggs and his sperm are placed in a dish in the IVF laboratory. Once the eggs are ripe, they will be aspirated from your ovaries and placed in an incubator with a specially prepared solution designed to promote fertilization. If you have chosen ICSI, a single sperm is injected into each mature egg under microscopic guidance. This procedure may occur during the same time period as egg retrieval, or it may be done on another day when sperm quality is optimal. The resulting embryos will be observed for several hours before being placed back in your uterus through the cervix with a thin plastic tube (catheter). You will experience mild cramping and discomfort when the embryos are inserted through your cervix, which will subside quickly.
What to Expect While Waiting For Results
After embryo transfer, you may be required to return to our office for a blood pregnancy test between two weeks and two months following the procedure. The results of such a test can be available within 24-48 hours in most cases.
We understand that you may be anxious during this time period, and we will do everything possible to make sure that you receive your results as quickly as possible. If the test is positive, we recommend that you wait until after your first trimester before trying to conceive again to reduce any risk of a multiple gestation pregnancy at the time of conception. If the test is negative, the cycle may be repeated after a recovery period, or you may choose to proceed with other types of fertility treatments.
The Bottom Line
IVF in Singapore can be used to overcome most causes of infertility. If you are hoping to get pregnant, don’t lose hope. IVF is a good option for many couples who have tried other options without success.