IVF Laboratory Procedures – Info from a Colorado Fertility Clinic
- Posted on: May 9 2013
In vitro fertilization is often referred to as ‘test tube baby.’ It is a highly effective process designed to treat infertility when other methods have been unsuccessful. In fact, IVF has become the most successful form of fertility treatment yielding a success rate of 50 percent or even higher in women under the age of 35 years old.
The IVF Procedure
The natural process of conception involves an egg being released from the ovary into the fallopian tube during the menstrual cycle. The egg becomes fertilized while in the tube, becoming an embryo and then implanting in the uterus.
When IVF is used, the fallopian tubes are bypassed. The process involves ovarian stimulation with fertility medications that helps develop multiple eggs. The development of the eggs is carefully monitored with ultrasounds and blood tests. The eggs are then removed from the ovary with a minor surgical procedure, placed into a petri dish and fertilized by the partner’s sperm.
Daily monitoring of the eggs and embryos occurs by laboratory technicians referred to as embryologists. The embryologist will either place the eggs and sperm in a dish together or performed a Sperm injection procedure to help ensure fertilization.
Once the eggs have fertilized, they start to divide into cells that make up an “early developing fetus” called an embryo. Depending on the lab, the embryos are checked daily or every other day until the embryos are placed back into the woman’s uterus using a catheter inserted into the cervix. Extra embryos may be saved by freezing (often at the blastocyst stage) and used in the future.
IVF Lab Procedures Performed
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)– When there is insufficient sperm available, unexplained infertility, failure to conceive with insemination despite normal sperm parameters or the parameters for the sperm are compromised, ICSI is an option. ICSI fertilization is when one sperm is injected directly into one egg for fertilization to occur.
Assisted Hatching Before an embryo implants in the uterus it must break through the thin layer of the zona pellucida and is known as hatching. Some believe that as a woman ages, the zona pellucida hardens and the developing embryo can’t implant because it can’t break out of its shell, explaining why fertility declines as one ages. Making a tiny opening in the zona pellucida with chemicals or a LASER and transferring the embryo to the uterus is thought to assist the process for some women. This procedure is known as assisted hatching.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis or PGD involves the removal of a single or multiple cells from an embryo that is developing. The cell is then monitored and analyzed for genetic and chromosomal disorders (Aneuploidy diagnosis).
Embryo freezing When there are extras embryos from an IVF cycle that are not transferred to the uterus, the extra good quality embryos may be frozen in a process called Vitrification. Frozen embryos stored as long as 10 years have resulted in pregnancy. Not all embryos will survive the vitrification process, or result in pregnancy.
Oocyte cryopreservation While this procedure is still in its experimental stages, success has been seen in the area of freezing eggs and ovarian tissue. This procedure is being used for women in their 30s who desire waiting until they are older to conceive and for women who are undergoing cancer treatment and want their eggs frozen for future use.
Posted in: Infertility Treatment