When a couple or an individual agrees to go the IVF way as a means to conception for whatever reason, the treatment is kick started with the stage of growing the eggs. Here, controlled doses of medications are administered to make the woman hyper ovulate. In the normal cycle, a woman ovulates just one egg in a month. In this case however, she will need do more. This is the reason the medication is administered- to help in doing so.

Prior to this, there is the de-sensitization or down regulation process. This involves the control of the ovarian activity by muting it or keeping it quiet. This in turn becomes the precursor trigger for growing eggs when the right medication is eventually introduced.

After the preliminary stimulation stage, and the eggs are produced; the trigger stage follows. Here, a single injection is given which matures the eggs and makes them ready for retrieval.

The theatre procedure then comes after this. Under ultrasound guide, the oocyte (eggs) are retrieved in the theatrein a short process that lasts just about 3 to 10 minutes.

The fertilization stage is next after that. Here, the embryologist determines or follows a pre-arranged plan with the couple to either go the conventional fertilization way where the retrieved eggs are mixed with the sperm in the petri dish or the Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) where a single sperm is injected into a single egg.

After the fertilization stage, the embryos are cultured for a period of time (that is, placed in an incubator and monitored for development).This is also called the cleavage stage.

This is followed by the last stage which is the embryo transfer stage. Here, the embryos are closely observed and selection is done based on the quality and perceived possibility of ‘doing well’before there are transferred. Implantationand pregnancy is expected after a successful transfer.

So basically, we have 6 stages in the IVF treatment procedure. The ovulation control and trigger stage, the egg retrieval stage, the fertilization stage, culturing stage, and finally the embryo transfer stage. The fragmented nature gives it a somewhat long and complicated look but in reality, it is a seamless and pain-free process. It can be started and completed between 2 to 6 weeks depending on who is involved and the kind of protocol adapted.

There could be a post implantation stage called the leutial stage. Here, some medications are given to support the pregnancy two weeks into the implantation. This is because at this stage, the body has not produced some of the nutrients or hormones to support the pregnancy. The interference with the spontaneous process that was originally supposed to be is what necessitates the exogenous supply of these hormones and nutrients, all of which are made ready even before the embryo transfer. The pregnancy gets fully established in the space of 6 to 8 weeks and external supports are stopped.

There you have the IVF treatment process. Not as complicated as you thought it was right? Yes, indeed, it is an amazing process that delivers great results.

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