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IVF: Complete guide

In Vitro Fertilization, commonly known as IVF, is rapidly becoming a go-to solution for a lot of couples who are dealing with infertility issues. This advanced reproductive technology has transformed the possibilities of parenthood for such couples.  But are there any pre-requirements for IVF? Are there any pretreatment necessary? Well, that’s exactly what we are going to learn in this blog.

So let’s get started.


What is IVF?

IVF is not a first-step treatment; it’s often the path taken when other fertility treatments don’t yield results.

It’s particularly helpful in cases like blocked Fallopian tubes, low sperm motility, abnormal sperm, or when couples face unexplained infertility.

Age-related fertility decline, low Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) levels, genetic conditions, and metabolic disorders also play significant roles in the decision to opt for IVF.

Pre-Treatment Essentials

IVF success hinges on several critical factors, such as the quality of eggs and sperm and the uterus’s ability to support an embryo. Let’s delve into the preparatory steps:

The Importance of IVF Counseling

Before embarking on the IVF journey, counseling is imperative. It involves understanding the best-suited IVF techniques for your specific situation and getting insights into the process’s duration, costs, and post-procedure care.

Preparing Your Body for IVF

  •   Routine Medical Tests

Before diving into the IVF process, a comprehensive check-up is vital. This includes blood tests to gauge overall health and hormonal balance, ensuring no underlying conditions could affect IVF outcomes. For instance, tests for Rubella immunity are crucial as this infection can be harmful during pregnancy.

  •   Vaccinations

Depending on your medical history and test results, you might need certain vaccinations. These are to ensure you’re protected against infections that could harm you or a future pregnancy. The idea is to create the safest environment possible for both you and the potential baby.

  •   Additional Tests

In some cases, doctors might suggest more specific tests like HPV DNA tests or Pap smears. These are to rule out issues like cervical dysplasia, which could impact the success of IVF or the health of your pregnancy.

  •   Thorough Health Check-up

This includes checking hemoglobin levels to rule out anemia, assessing vitamin levels (such as Vitamin D and B12), and ensuring your thyroid and prolactin levels are within the normal range. All of these factors can influence fertility and the ability to carry a healthy pregnancy.

  •   Genetic Testing

If there’s a family history of genetic disorders, a history of recurrent miscarriages, or a close genetic relationship between partners, karyotyping might be suggested. This test looks at the chromosomes to identify any genetic abnormalities that could affect fertility or the health of the baby.


Internal Health Assessments

  •   Uterine and Ovarian Evaluation

A key part of preparing for IVF is assessing the health of your reproductive system. This involves an ultrasound to look at your uterine cavity and ovaries. The doctor checks for any abnormalities like polyps, fibroids, or ovarian cysts that could interfere with implantation or the development of a pregnancy.

  •   Addressing Anomalies

If issues like Hydrosalpinx (blocked and swollen Fallopian tubes) are detected, they need to be addressed. Hydrosalpinx can decrease IVF success rates, so doctors might recommend a procedure to either remove the affected tube or disconnect it from the uterus.

Surgical Interventions

  • In some cases, surgery might be necessary before proceeding with IVF. For example, if large fibroids are putting pressure on the uterine cavity, they may need to be surgically removed. The goal is to create a uterine environment that’s conducive to implantation and capable of supporting a full-term pregnancy.


Semen Analysis for Male Partners

For male partners, semen analysis before IVF is not just important—it’s crucial. This comprehensive testing goes beyond the basics, delving deep into the health and viability of sperm, which plays a vital role in the success of IVF.

  • Comprehensive Testing: The process begins with standard screenings for HIV, VDRL, and other viral markers. It’s essential to ensure that there are no underlying health concerns that could impact the IVF procedure or the future pregnancy.
  • In-Depth Analysis: A computerized semen report is highly recommended. This detailed analysis provides crucial information about sperm health, particularly focusing on two key aspects: morphology and motility. Morphology refers to the shape and structure of the sperm, a critical factor in its ability to fertilize an egg. Motility, on the other hand, assesses the sperm’s movement capabilities, an essential function for natural conception.
  • Advanced Testing: In some scenarios, particularly where there’s a history of fertility challenges or miscarriages, doctors might suggest DNA fragmentation tests. This advanced form of testing evaluates the integrity of sperm DNA. Damaged DNA in sperm can significantly impact the sperm’s ability to successfully fertilize an egg and may lead to developmental problems in the embryo. Understanding the quality of sperm DNA is key to formulating an effective IVF strategy and enhancing the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.

What are the Steps involved in IVF Procedure?

IVF is a multi-stage process that involves several critical steps:

Ovarian Stimulation

  • Hormonal Medications: Women are given hormonal medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs, as opposed to the single egg typically produced each month.
  • Monitoring: Regular ultrasound scans and blood tests monitor the development of the eggs and the body’s response to the hormones.

Egg Retrieval

  • Surgical Procedure: Once the eggs are mature, they are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure, usually performed under sedation or anesthesia.
  • Methodology: A needle is inserted through the vaginal wall, guided by ultrasound, to extract the eggs from the ovaries.

Sperm Collection

  • Sample Collection: Simultaneously, a semen sample is collected from the male partner, either through ejaculation or, in some cases, via surgical extraction.


  • In the Lab: The collected eggs and sperm are combined in the laboratory to facilitate fertilization. Sometimes, ICSI is employed to inject a single sperm directly into an egg.

Embryo Development and Transfer

  • Growth Monitoring: The fertilized eggs, now embryos, are monitored for growth and development over several days.
  • Transfer Procedure: The healthiest embryos are selected for transfer into the woman’s uterus, a procedure that’s usually quick and painless.

The Waiting Period

  • Pregnancy Test: About two weeks after the embryo transfer, a pregnancy test is conducted to determine if the IVF procedure has been successful.

Wrapping Up

IVF is a journey filled with emotional and physical complexities. While it opens doors to parenthood that might have seemed closed, it demands resilience, patience, and informed decision-making. Understanding IVF in its entirety helps in setting realistic expectations and preparing for the journey ahead.

As with any medical procedure, it’s crucial to work closely with your healthcare provider to tailor the IVF process to your unique circumstances. For a more in-depth understanding, make sure you consult our experts. They will offer you better guidance and understanding on the matter.

  • About Author

    Dr. Supriya Puranik

    Gynaecologist & IVF Specialist

Often known as the last glimmer of hope for people who have lost all hope for conceiving a child, Dr. Supriya Puranik is a leading gynaecologist, high risk obstetrician and Head of IVF & Gynaecology department at Ankura Hospital for Women & Children.

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