IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) is a technique involving the fertilisation of eggs by sperm outside the body.
Spire Clare Park Hospital offers IVF treatment in conjunction with Guys and St Thomas's Fertility Centre. This combined service is designed to offer patients convenient care locally and with two visits to London for the IVF procedure itself.
Patients will have their initial consultations and investigations with Mr Nick Elkington at Spire Clare Park Hospital and attend Guys and St Thomas's assisted conception unit for egg collection and embryo transfer with Mr Khalaf. Ongoing follow-up and pregnancy scan will be provided by Mr Elkington at Spire Clare Park Hospital.
A treatment cycle is made up of six stages:
- The woman’s normal hormone production is temporarily switched off, using medicine, so we have control of egg production and release.
- The woman’s ovaries are then stimulated with hormone injections to produce eggs.
- The woman’s eggs are collected from her ovaries.
- The male produces a semen sample (on the day of egg collection).
- The eggs and sperm are placed together in a laboratory dish to allow fertilisation and early embryo development.
- The embryo(s) are placed in the woman’s uterus usually on the third or fifth day after egg collection when the fertilised egg has divided and contains six to eight cells, or is a blastocyst.
A pregnancy test should be carried out 14 days after the embryo transfer, and if the result is positive an ultrasound test will take place two weeks later to check the number of embryos, that the embryo is alive and situated in the uterus.
What causes IVF to fail?
During the IVF treatment cycle, problems can arise which cause the treatment to be unsuccessful:
- The ovaries may either fail to respond to the simulating drug or over respond. In the latter case, the treatment would be put on hold until it is safe to continue without the risk of ovarian hyper-stimulation.
- Very rarely, despite ultrasounds indicating the presence of follicles, no eggs are found during the egg collection procedure.
- The collected eggs fail to fertilise in the laboratory and therefore no embryos are available to transfer.
- The eggs may fail to divide after fertilisation and cannot be placed into the uterus.
- The most common reason for IVF failure is embryos failing to develop in the uterus.