What is IVF?
When you need IVF (In-vitro Fertilisation) to help you have a child, we bring eggs and sperm together in a dish in our lab and develop the resulting embryos in our world leading incubation system for several days before we transfer one embryo into the woman’s uterus.
IVF can be used to overcome a range of fertility issues but it’s important to make sure that you actually require IVF and that it addresses your specific infertility issue. Selecting the right clinic for IVF or ICSI treatment is vital. Getting the right diagnosis is crucial so starting with a clinic that offers a range of treatments means IVF may not need to be part of your journey.
Only 50% of patients who see a Genea Fertility Specialist actually require IVF.
Find a Fertility Specialist near you
How does IVF work?
Fertility Specialist, Dr Mark Livingstone discusses the IVF process
Every month, follicles begin to develop in a woman’s ovaries. Between one to 30 follicles will grow each menstrual cycle – depending on a woman’s age and ovarian reserve. But just one follicle will dominate and release a mature egg.
During an IVF cycle, injections of a hormone known as FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) are used to encourage more of the follicles to develop mature eggs. These eggs are then collected under vaginal ultrasound guidance – sometimes called oocyte (egg) pick up (OPU) or oocyte retrieval. It’s a day surgery procedure which is usually done with a local anaesthetic and light sedation.
The eggs are then fertilised by sperm in the lab. The developing embryos are monitored for several days, in Genea’s exclusive Geri™ incubation system before one is transferred to the uterus. Patients are able to watch their embryos develop in Geri via our Grow By Genea® app. If there are additional embryos, they can be frozen and stored for later use.
Step-by-step IVF process
Once you’ve had your initial appointments, an IVF treatment cycle usually takes approximately four weeks, depending on your specific protocol.
1. Fertility Specialist Appointment
At your first appointment with your Fertility Specialist, the doctor will review your medical history as well as any previous investigations and treatments. If you have a partner, both of you should attend the first appointment with your Fertility Specialist. If you are entitled to Medicare, please ensure you have a referral which includes both of your names. At this appointment, your Fertility Specialist may provide preliminary advice about your treatment options or may decide to send you for more testing.
2. Nursing interview
Once your Fertility Specialist decides you should start IVF, they will create a treatment plan. This will be seen by the Nursing team to set you up for your cycle and to ensure that you are safe to proceed with treatment. At the appointment, your Nurse will explain the IVF process, outline a probable timeline and show you how to self administer the fertility medications. Your nurse can answer any questions you have. We recommend both you and your partner attend this interview.
3. Treatment begins
Depending on the type of cycle you are having, you’ll likely start with a blood test to check that your body is ready to start treatment that month. For the next week or so, you will administer fertility medication each day. It’s likely to be a form of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH is administered through a diabetic-style pen and it stimulates your ovaries to produce more eggs than would be produced in a normal, unmedicated cycle. After this period, you’ll be likely to have two injections a day for another three or four days. The second injection is designed to block ovulation and stop the eggs being released early.
4. Treatment monitoring
While you’re taking the fertility medication, we will ask you to come into the clinic for blood tests to measure your hormone levels and ultrasounds to measure the number and size of your ovarian follicles. The result of this monitoring guides us as to the best time for your egg collection. These blood tests and ultrasounds are conducted between 7am and 8:30am helping you fit them in before work and are included as part of your treatment costs when conducted at a Genea clinic.
5. Trigger injection
Once you have the best possible number and size of follicles, we schedule your egg collection. You’ll have a trigger injection of hCG (human chorionic gonatrophin) in the evening, and then we collect the eggs in a day surgery procedure 36 hours later.
6. Egg collection (OPU)
You will need to come into our preferred day surgery a day and a half after your trigger injection (don’t worry, your Nurse will give you an exact time). We collect the eggs just before ovulation would have occurred. It’s a day surgery procedure which is usually done with a local anaesthetic and light sedation. However, you can have a general anaesthetic if you prefer. We locate the eggs in the ovaries using ultrasound guidance and collect them using a small needle. The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes. While it’s a relatively short visit, you will be required to take the day off work. You will need an escort home and someone to stay with you overnight. If you have a male partner, they will be required to give a sperm sample on the same day. There are private collection rooms at the clinic.
Your eggs are taken straight to the laboratory by the Embryologist who assisted during your procedure. There they are placed in culture medium ahead of fertilisation with sperm in approximately three hours. Your Embryologist will call you the next morning to tell you how many of your eggs successfully fertilised.
8. Embryo development
The fertilised eggs (embryos) are placed in Genea’s exclusive Geri™ incubation system
and monitored for several days. With Geri™
we are closer than ever before to mimicking the undisturbed natural environment of a woman’s body – where a human embryo would normally be. Our Geri™
incubation system has seen an increase of 12.2% in the number of high grade embryos per cycle when compared to the traditional incubator and culture medium system*
, Genea’s benchtop incubator with individually controlled incubation chambers for each patient and time lapse camera allows scientists to continuously monitor embryos while they remain undisturbed, eliminating the need to open the incubator to check on embryo development. Patients can also watch their embryos develop during this time via our Grow By Genea® app
9. Embryo transfer
Embryo transfer is a simple procedure conducted at the fertility clinic and usually takes place five days after the egg collection. One of Genea's highly experienced Fertility Specialists will transfer one of your embryos into the uterus through a very fine catheter passed through the cervix. The procedure is very similar to a pap smear and you can usually go to work afterwards.
10. Embryo freezing
If there are additional embryos, they can be frozen and stored for later use. At Genea, we use the world’s first automated vitrification instrument – Gavi™
– to freeze embryos. Traditionally done by hand by scientists, vitrification is a process that requires a high degree of precision and is vulnerable to human and environmental variances. Gavi™
automates and standardises key stages of the process and ensures embryos are consistently snap frozen, then stores them in a personalised Gavi™
pod until they are needed.
11. Pregnancy test
Eleven to fourteen days after embryo transfer your Nurse will organise for you to have a pregnancy test. Your pregnancy test results are usually available by mid afternoon - we will call you whatever the result.