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By Dr Shobha Gupta
Infertility is a common modern day problem, which is when you are unable to conceive naturally despite one year of trying. For many couples dealing with fertility issues, IVF is one option for them to conceive. As you age, your fertility levels will decline. So, it is very important to know all about IVF treatment before jumping into it:
First of all, what exactly is IVF?
IVF is a technique wherein fertilisation does not happen in the woman’s body and instead, occurs in the laboratory. This is followed by the sperm penetrating the egg to trigger fertilisation. In this procedure, the eggs are surgically extracted from a female’s body and merged with the sperm in a lab. Once fertilisation happens, the embryo is implanted into the womb. The method is termed as in vitro fertilization, ‘in vitro’ which means ‘in glass’ or a dish, it means outside the body (culture).
Age matters a lot
Every woman should know about the time or age when her fertility starts to drop dramatically. It starts declining from the age of 30 onwards. Diminishing egg numbers along with diminishing egg quality is also one issue. A simple blood test, known as AMH, will tell a woman if she has a normal number of eggs for her age but tells us little about the quality of the eggs remaining. On the other hand, men's fertility can also reduce with age. While women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, men are continually producing new sperm. However, as men age, the quality of the genes in their sperm deteriorates from 40 onwards.
Should I opt for IUI or IVF?
Other fertility methods like IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) may be more appropriate and your fertility doctor will be able to advise you if that is the case, keeping the aim of getting you pregnant faster. But it is important to note that in comparison with IVF, the success rate of IUI per attempt is much lesser and hence IVF treatments definitely tend to have an upper hand when compared to IUI treatment.
What is the success rate of IVF?
There are innumerable fertility clinics and infertility specialists and many have achieved the highest success rates in IVF in the world. However, an individual couple's chance of success depends on a number of factors such as the cause of infertility, age and lifestyle. As a general guide, there is a 50 per cent chance of conception per IVF treatment if aged under 30. This goes down to a 20 percent chance for your first IVF treatment over the age of 40.
How much would the IVF treatment cost?
Infertility is increasing at a fast pace and IVF is becoming a common option for all. So, as a result, IVF has become more affordable in India than in other developed countries. It is just 1/5th of the cost outside India with success rate at par with the world. The cost of an IVF treatment would generally depend upon the cause of infertility, the type of IVF stimulation that is required and other interventions that might be needed in the lab to achieve the formation of a good quality embryo; it varies from clinic to clinic. In the industry today, IVF cycles are available from between Rs 1.5 lakh all-inclusive to Rs 4.5 lakh all-inclusive. If there is sperm required for the donor’s egg, the cost of the treatment would be higher.
Risks involved in IVF treatment
IVF has been around for more than 30 years. It is a very safe procedure, with no long-term risks to mother or child. The most serious medical complication is Ovulation Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), affecting one percent of women. It occurs when a woman over-responds to hormone treatment and produces too many eggs. However, the lower drug doses used nowadays mean that this is much less common. In addition, specialists have become much better at predicting which women are at risk of OHSS, and the medical profession is well-trained in recognising and managing symptoms.
There are no guarantees
Last but not least, you should know that IVF is a highly effective treatment in overcoming many causes of infertility such as low-sperm count, blocked fallopian tubes and PCOS but there are no guarantees. Around 70 per cent to 80 per cent of couples achieve pregnancy with IVF. However, counselling is recommended when couples face the difficult decision to stop treatment.
(The writer is Medical Director and IVF expert from Mother’s Lap IVF Centre.)