How is fertility treatment performed?
There are a number of different ways a fertility treatment procedure can be carried out. Therefore, the different steps of your specific procedure will vary. Your medical team will discuss the available options and explain which option they think is the most appropriate for you. This means the procedure time will vary from treatment to treatment. This page broadly explains what to expect from some of the different types of treatments. Your doctor or surgeon will provide more specific information once you decide which fertility treatment you wish to try.
If you choose to take medication, the first step is a consultation with a fertility specialist. They will discuss the problems that you have been experiencing and take a full medical history from you. They may run some blood tests before deciding which medication is the right one for you. Once everyone is happy with the plan to start a particular medication, the doctor will write up a prescription for you.
The course of medical treatment for infertility depends on which medication your doctor prescribes for you. In most cases, the medication will be taken for at least 3 menstrual cycles to ensure the best chance of ovulation.
Additionally, there is some variation in when you take the medication. Some medications such as Metformin are taken every day, whereas others like Clomifene may only be taken for a few days per cycle. Your doctor will ensure that you have clear instructions on when you should take your medication.
As with all fertility treatments, you may not get pregnant immediately. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting how long it will take for you to conceive on fertility medication. If you have any questions or concerns about the timeframe, your doctor will be happy to answer these for you.
Before you have any type of fertility treatment, you will have to give your consent to treatment in writing. You should read the consent form carefully to make sure you fully understand the procedure you are about to have, and the risks that come with it. These are different depending on the procedure that you are having.
If you opt for surgical treatment, you will be given an anaesthetic before the procedure. For a surgical sperm extraction, the surgeon will usually inject a local anaesthetic to numb the testicle and surrounding area. You will therefore be awake for the procedure, but you will not feel any pain. It will take a few hours after the surgery for the numbness to wear off.
For more extensive surgery, such as that involving the fallopian tubes, a general anaesthetic may be more appropriate. In this case, you will meet with the anaesthetist and they will explain how the anaesthetic agent will work. You will be asleep for the surgery and will wake up slowly when it is over. You may feel groggy for a few hours after waking up, but this will wear off. It may also affect your memory and concentration for 1 to 2 days but this will also resolve.
3. Surgical technique
The actual surgical technique used will vary depending on the cause of infertility and the procedure that you have chosen to have. Your surgeon will discuss this with you before you make your decision about undergoing the surgery.
If you are undergoing keyhole surgery, the surgeon will make several small incisions around the areas they want to access through which they can insert surgical tools. If however, you are having more extensive surgery using an open technique, your surgeon will make a larger incision over the area to be operated on.
Generally, treatments like surgical sperm extraction are quicker to perform than those for blockages in both genders and operations for fibroids and endometriosis. As the time taken is specific to you and your operation, the best person to get an indication of operation time from is your surgeon.
4. Return home
In many cases, you will be able to return home soon after your procedure. Your treatment area may remain numb for a few hours but the effects of the anaesthetic will wear off with time.
If you have more extensive surgery, you may have to stay in hospital overnight. Again, your surgeon will discuss this with you before the operation and together you will come up with a recovery plan. If you have any questions about a surgical fertility treatment procedure, you can always contact your surgeon to ask.
Here, we will discuss the general IVF procedure and what it involves. This differs depending on your needs and preferences and so the following information is a rough guide only. For more specific details, please ask your fertility specialist.
If you are male, your IVF treatment involves you providing a sperm sample. This undergoes analysis to identify the most healthy sperm to use in the fertilisation process.
For women, the procedure has a lot more steps. After deciding to go ahead with the treatment, your doctor or surgeon will prescribe some medications which first override your natural menstrual cycle and then stimulates it to produce eggs. You usually take these medications for around 2 weeks each, one after the other.
During the IVF process, you can expect to have at least one ultrasound scan and also some blood tests for monitoring of your progress. This allows the fertility specialists to be sure that the medication is working and to plan to best time to collect your eggs.
Egg collection is a minor surgical procedure and requires local anaesthetic with sedation to keep you as comfortable as possible. This part of the treatment involves using a fine needle to collect the eggs via the vagina.
After egg collection, the next step is fertilisation. In IVF, this means that the egg and sperm sample mix and after 1 day the fertility specialist returns to assess them and see if there has been any fertilisation. If this is successful, these embryos grow for 2 to 6 days in the lab before embryo transfer, the act of replacing them into the womb. During this time, you can expect to take medication to help your womb to prepare to accept the embryo.
The transfer part of the IVF treatment procedure is less invasive than the egg collection and often does not require sedation. Your specialist will use a thin tube to pass into the vagina and deliver the embryo to the womb. Your specialist may suggest waiting 2 weeks before taking a pregnancy test to see if the treatment has been successful.