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IVF FAQs

Chances are if you’re about to embark on your IVF journey you’ll have questions around the process. Below are some frequently asked questions to support you.

Why am I not getting pregnant?

Infertility is defined as not conceiving after 12 months of penetrative sex without using protection. Around one in seven couples are affected and there can be many reasons. Irregular periods may be a sign your ovaries aren’t releasing eggs. Or the shape of your partner’s sperm may prevent it from fertilising your eggs.

What does fertility mean?

The ability to conceive offspring. In humans, that process begins with sperm fertilising an egg to produce an embryo which results in a baby.

What are the causes of infertility?

The odds of getting pregnant and having a baby are reduced by many factors. For women, age (over 35), being (over/under) weight, and hormone imbalances undermine success. If you’re a man then low sperm count can be to blame along with sperm that are abnormally shaped or poor swimmers.

What does IVF stand for?

In vitro fertilisation. ‘In vitro’ is Latin for ‘within glass’ which in fertility-speak translates as in the lab instead of inside your body.

What is the IVF process?

Several steps are involved. It starts with the woman injecting hormone-based drugs to stimulate her ovaries to produce mature eggs. Then the eggs are retrieved from her body under local anaesthetic, and her partner/a donor provides sperm. The eggs are fertilised with the sperm in the IVF laboratory to produce embryos. In the final stage, an embryo is transferred to the woman’s uterus to implant.

What is the IVF process timeline?

This ranges from between four to six weeks for a full cycle of IVF. Or around three weeks for women who don’t undergo the hormone-suppressing stage.

How does IVF work?

This fertility technique involves fertilising your eggs with sperm in the IVF laboratory. The aim is to develop healthy embryos and implant one into your womb.

What is secondary infertility?

You’re already a mum then can’t get pregnant again or miscarry/experience a stillbirth. The experience can come as a shock if conceiving was straightforward before. The possible reasons for secondary infertility are the same as for infertility.

What is unexplained infertility?

This is when medical tests can’t identify a reason for not conceiving. Around one in four couples are affected.

How much does IVF cost?

Prices in the UK can range from £5,000 to £20,000 for one cycle. The cost varies between clinics and increases if you use optional procedures. These ‘add-ons’ include Chinese herbal medicine and many are not proven to work.

What is the IVF success rate?

The live birth rate for each embryo transferred in an IVF cycle. The figure is based on women using their own eggs. Success varies between clinics and according to factors affecting fertility including patient age and health conditions eg endometriosis.

What are the IVF success rates by age?

The older you are, the lower your chances of a baby. For under-35s, the success rate is 32%; 25% for women aged 35 to 37; 19% for 38 to 39-year-olds; 11% for 40 to 42; 5% for 43 to 44; and 4% if aged 45 to 50.

Does the Covid vaccine affect fertility?

Not according to research, although the data is limited. Based on current evidence, the British Fertility Society and Association of Reproductive and Clinical Scientists say that none of the vaccines in use should impact the chances of conceiving.

What is male infertility?

Men are just as likely to be affected by infertility as women. And sperm quantity and quality are the main reasons. So, fertility treatment may be the only route to get their partner pregnant.

What is IVF egg collection?

The embryologist takes eggs from your ovaries for fertilising in the lab. The eggs are contained in tiny fluid-filled sacs (follicles). You’re given a local anaesthetic then a needle is inserted through the vagina wall and into each ovary. The fluid is drained off, removed via the needle, and the eggs extracted.

What is the IVF success rate in the UK?

The fertility watchdog the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority doesn’t publish one. Instead, they provide figures by age group and other factors which influence the odds eg use of donor eggs.

Should I go on a special fertility diet to increase my chances of getting pregnant?

A well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fibre, protein and other essential nutrients will improve your overall health. Make sure you’re not deficient in iron which has been linked to infertility, and check your lifestyle – smoking, drinking and recreational drug use impact on chances of pregnancy.

What are fertility vitamins?

Dietary supplements aimed at boosting the chance of conceiving. The claim is they can increase the response of the ovaries in IVF, improving sperm quality and help women carry pregnancies to term. Vitamins D and E, and Coenzyme Q10 are among those recommended. However, experts are divided over the benefits of these supplements for fertility.

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