Your doctor may suggest that you need either IVF (in vitro fertilisation) or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) treatment. Both treatments allow us to transfer embryo(s) directly in to the womb.
Step 1 – Stimulation of the ovaries
Both treatments involve the stimulation of your ovaries with daily injections to try and produce more than the one egg usually produced in each cycle, usually between 5 -15 as not all eggs will fertilise or develop to form good quality embryos. There are several different protocols to achieve this. Your Consultant will individually tailor a treatment plan to suit your own specific needs and situation. The protocols tend to range from 2-4 weeks of daily injections.
We will closely monitor your response to treatment with scans and blood tests if needed and you will be given a personalised plan at the start of your treatment cycle.
Step 2 – Egg collection and fertilisation
Egg collection is a day case procedure with sedation to make you comfortable and is similar to having an internal scan performed. Once your eggs are collected we will fertilise them in the laboratory. During IVF treatment eggs and sperm are mixed together in a dish and allowed to fertilise naturally. In cases where the sperm count or movement is less than normal, or where previous IVF treatment has resulted in low or no fertilisation, then a process of injecting sperm in to the egg (ICSI) may increase fertilisation.
Step 3 – Embryo transfer
Once eggs are fertilised we will let them develop for between 2-5 days before transferring one or two embryos back, occasionally three if you are over forty. We perform embryo transfer 7 days a week so that we can ensure your embryos are transferred at the optimal stage. Embryo transfer is a simple procedure generally done without sedation, a little like having a smear.
Any spare embryos may be frozen if good quality for use in a subsequent cycle without having to repeat stages 1 and 2.
Step 4 – Pregnancy test
After this time we will arrange a date for your pregnancy test. When you have a positive pregnancy test we will ask you to continue progesterone and will arrange an early pregnancy scan for you to check the pregnancy is developing correctly.
Frozen embryo replacement cycles
Sometimes IVF or ICSI treatment results in the creation of more embryos than can be replaced at any one time in to the womb. We may recommend that spare embryos if good quality are frozen for use in the future without the need to go through a further fresh stimulation cycle again.
Embyros may be transferred in either of the protocols below:-
- In a natural cycle without drugs but monitoring your ovulation using urine ovulation strips.
- In a drug assisted cycle after preparation of ovaries and womb lining with a combination of injections, hormone patches and pessaries.
We are proud that our technology for frozen replacement cycles produces consistently high success rates, much above the HFEA average. For further information please see our current success rates.