Breaking the Stigma: Understanding the Science and Success of IVF
Elizabeth Maria Dias
IVF (In vitro fertilization) is a medical procedure that involves combining eggs and sperm outside of the body to create embryos for implantation. When considering IVF, factors such as age, fertility diagnosis, and medical history are considered. Typically, individuals or couples are considered ready for IVF when they have attempted other fertility treatments without success, have certain medical conditions that affect fertility, have a low sperm count, have a blocked fallopian tube, or are older than 35 years old. It's important to have a thorough discussion with a fertility specialist to determine if IVF is the right option for you. A doctor may recommend IVF for individuals or couples who have infertility or other reproductive issues that have not been successfully treated with other methods.
According to a study published, the number of IVF cycles in India has increased from 7,000 in 2008 to over 100,000 in 2016.
Another survey conducted found that around 1.5-2% of Indian couples face infertility and require IVF treatment.
Studies conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2017 estimated that around 10-15% of married couples in India face infertility, and that around 1-2% of live births in India are the result of IVF.
The Times of India in 2019 found that the number of men opting for IVF treatments had increased by 100% over the past few years.
“IVF is not just about making babies, it's about making families.”
Preparing for an IVF for a successful outcome.
Before starting IVF, consult with a fertility specialist to assess your medical history and discuss the potential risks and benefits of the treatment.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can help increase the chances of success in IVF. This includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding smoking and alcohol.
Start taking pre-natal vitamins containing folic acid, which can help improve egg quality and reduce the risk of birth defects.
Stress can impact fertility, so managing stress levels through practices like yoga, meditation, or counseling can be helpful.
IVF can be expensive, so it's important to plan ahead and understand the costs involved. Check with your insurance provider if they cover the costs of IVF.
During IVF, you will be required to take hormone injections and other medications as per the doctor's instructions. Make sure you follow the schedule and dosage carefully.
IVF can be emotionally draining, so it's essential to have a support system in place. This can include your partner, family, friends, or a support group.
General steps involved in the IVF process.
Ovarian Stimulation: The first step in the IVF process is to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This is done through daily hormone injections for around 10-12 days.
Monitoring and Egg Retrieval: During this period, the patient is monitored regularly to track the growth and development of the eggs. Once the eggs have matured, they are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure performed under anesthesia.
Fertilization: The retrieved eggs are then fertilized with sperm in a laboratory dish. The fertilization can be done through conventional IVF or Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), depending on the individual case.
Embryo Culture: The fertilized eggs are cultured in a laboratory for several days to allow the embryos to develop.
Embryo Transfer: The developed embryos are transferred into the uterus through a catheter inserted through the cervix.
Pregnancy Test: After a few weeks of the embryo transfer, a pregnancy test is conducted to determine if the IVF cycle was successful.
Risks and potential complications
The use of fertility drugs to stimulate egg production can result in the release of multiple eggs. Multiple pregnancies carry a higher risk of complications for both the mother and babies.
Fertility drugs used during IVF can cause OHSS, a condition in which the ovaries become swollen and painful.
IVF increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy, in which the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus. Ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.
The risk of miscarriage is slightly higher with IVF than with natural conception, particularly for women over the age of 35.
While the overall risk of birth defects is small, some studies have suggested that IVF may be associated with a slightly increased risk of certain birth defects, such as heart and digestive system abnormalities.
IVF can be emotionally and psychologically challenging, particularly for couples who have struggled with infertility for a long time. Some women may experience anxiety, depression, or stress during the treatment process.
IVF - a stressful and emotionally challenging experience
During an IVF cycle, you may experience side effects such as bloating, mood swings, and fatigue due to the hormone injections. It's important to discuss any concerns or discomfort with your fertility specialist. Additionally, IVF can be emotionally taxing, so it's essential to have a support system in place to help you through the process.
Uncertainty and Anxiety
Fear of Failure
Cost of IVF and financial assistance options
The cost of In vitro fertilization (IVF) in India can vary depending on several factors, such as the city, clinic, and treatment required. On average, the cost of a single IVF cycle in India can range from INR 80,000 to INR 2,50,000 (approximately $1,000 to $3,500). However, additional treatments such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or embryo freezing can increase the cost.
Many clinics in India offer financial assistance options for IVF treatments. Some of these options include:
Government Schemes: The Indian government has initiated several schemes to provide financial assistance to couples seeking IVF treatment. For instance, the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA) scheme provides financial aid of up to INR 60,000 for two IVF cycles for women who are unable to conceive naturally.
Insurance: Some insurance companies in India provide coverage for infertility treatments, including IVF. Before selecting a policy, check if it covers IVF and the specific treatments involved.
Medical Loans: Many banks and financial institutions in India offer medical loans that can cover the cost of IVF treatment. These loans have flexible repayment options and low-interest rates.
Clinic Financing: Some IVF clinics in India offer financing options that can help spread the cost of treatment over a longer period. These options can include installment plans, interest-free financing, or package deals.
It is important to research and compare the different IVF clinics and financial assistance options available to find the best option for your needs and budget.
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