In-vitro fertilisation (IVF)
IVF is one type of treatment that can help people with fertility problems have a baby and allows us to use sperm and egg to create an embryo in a laboratory setting.
The sperm and egg can come from you and your partner or from donors. We then support you to prepare your body for pregnancy and when we reach the optimum time, insert the embryo in a woman’s body to develop. This process enables us to control more of the factors involved in developing an embryo and conceiving a pregnancy and for some people, can offer a better chance of conceiving a healthy baby than trying naturally.
What to expect
A typical IVF cycle takes four to six weeks. This includes:
- your booking appointment
- administering injections at home for 10 to 12 days
- egg collection (37 to 39 hours after your final injection)
- embryo transfer (two to five days after your egg collection); and
- taking a pregnancy test 14 days later
You will have regular scan and blood test appointments throughout your cycle. If you are pregnant, you will continue your hormone treatment for another 10 weeks before transferring to the care of a maternity team.
Treatment will include tablets or injections used to stimulate your hormones and control ovulation. You will need to take follicule stimulating hormone (FSH) every day, via tablet or injection, for 10 to 12 days. During this period, you will need to visit our unit for vaginal ultrasound scans to monitor how your ovaries and the lining of your uterus respond to your daily FSH treatment. Some patients will have two scans, others will have as many as five. Your scan appointments will typically take about 15 minutes, with another five minutes for blood tests.
At the end of the stimulation phase, we will instruct you to give yourself a final injection of human chorionic gonadotrophin (HCG), which matures your eggs. Your eggs should be ready for collection within 37 to 39 hours, so we will schedule another appointment for you then.
You and your partner will need to attend your egg collection appointment together. You will be sedated and your eggs will be collected using ultrasound guidance. This appointment will take two to four hours. On the same day, your partner will be asked to produce a semen sample. The eggs will be mixed with the sperm and cultured in the laboratory. The embryology staff will call you to let you know how many eggs have been fertilised.
You will need to return to clinic for your embryo transfer appointment within two to five days. Your embryo transfer appointment will take two to three hours. Following embryo transfer, you will go home and take a daily dose of the hormones progesterone and oestrogen until you perform a pregnancy test, which is usually done 14 days after egg collection.
If your pregnancy test is positive, we will invite you in to perform a scan and confirm your pregnancy. You will then continue your hormone treatment until you are at least 10 weeks pregnant.
At that point, we can refer you directly to our maternity service, or back to your GP to discuss your options for maternity care. Find out more about NHS and private maternity services at Imperial College Healthcare, which are the first in London to receive an outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
If we identify any potential risks or complications when we perform your scan, we will refer you directly to the early pregnancy unit at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital.
If your cycle has not been successful, we will offer you a consultation to discuss your next steps.
Fertility treatments are very safe, but they do carry some risks.