When month to month the stork leaves itself wanting and the dream darkens with dashed expectations, couples often have no choice but to turn to assisted reproduction.
Medically assisted procreation (MAP) is the general term that designates all the medial interventions that aim to promote and/or induce pregnancy. In vitro fertilization (IVF), on the other hand, is the process that allows the egg to be fertilized in the laboratory.
Here are, in detail, the stages of IVF during a so-called "classic" protocol.
The first appointment at the fertility clinic is used to establish the patient's medical profile. We inquire about the history of pregnancy, miscarriages, abortions, etc., after which the doctor prescribes a preconception blood test. In some cases, before establishing a protocol and prescribing hormonal medications, an ultrasound is necessary to establish the patient's ovarian reserve.
We then wait for the next period. On day 1 of her period, the patient should call the clinic and then anurse tells him when to start the hormone injections, always according to the protocol in place.
Renée Cardinal, director of operations at the Ovo clinic explains: "In a natural cycle, a woman has only one egg at the time. In an IVF process, medication is taken to stimulate the follicles and increase the number of oocytes, with the aim of increasing the chances of success.”.
The round of ultrasounds
Following the first injections, ultrasounds are performed approximately every two or three days to check the effects of the medication on egg maturation. The quality and size of the follicles are monitored and the dose of the injections is modulated according to the results. Particular attention is paid to ovarian hyperstimulation (abnormal enlargement of the ovaries), a complication that we absolutely want to avoid.
Puncture and sampling
Generally around the third ultrasound, the follicles are large enough to be removed and this is when the puncture is done. We remove as many of them as possible and put them in contact with the spermatozoa.
“The semen was collected the same day as the puncture, so that it was as fresh as possible,” explains Ms. Cardinal.
Fertilization in the laboratory
The recovered sperm are inserted into the egg, in the hope of obtaining embryos. Three to five days later, depending on the gradation,the best of them are transferred to the uterus and all that remains is to wait for implantation to occur.
We are waiting for the HCG level to increase
A fortnight later, a blood test is taken to ensure that the level of chorionic gonadotropic hormone (HCG) is increasing. If so, that's a good sign, since this hormone is only produced after fertilization.
A fetal heart
Seven weeks after the last blood test, the one that showed an increase in HCG, an ultrasound is needed to see a fetal heart. If so, that's it, you're pregnant!
From this point on, the rest of your pregnancy should be like any other: unpredictable and wonderful at the same time. And in the majority of cases, no special treatment is necessary.
In vitro fertilization success rate
In a natural way, and in the best possible conditions (we are talking about a he althy and rather young woman), the chances of getting pregnant are 25%; following in vitro fertilization, the success rate is 50%.
In case of failure
Unfortunately, we sometimes find ourselves on the wrong side of the statistics and it may be that after a cycle, the process has to be started again. If this ordeal is often marked by disappointment and physically and psychologically difficult to live through, we must cling to a positive point: from one test tothe other, the chances of pregnancy increase. Why? Because every time, the body is better and better artificially prepared.
As mentioned before, in vitro fertilization cycles are tough tests on a woman's body and morale. For these reasons, specialists generally recommend that patients take a break after the third unsuccessful attempt.
Costs of in vitro fertilization
The costs of IVF are quite expensive. From one clinic to another, the prices may vary, but are always at least around $8,000 per cycle. Following the passage of Bill 20, which abolished the public assisted reproduction program, couples struggling with fertility problems now only have tax credits to help them.
Cuts that have a price
Seeing their dream amount to a thousand dollars and running out of financial means, more and more couples are turning to artificial insemination. Although this process is less expensive than IVF, Ms. Cardinal adds that it “significantly increases the rate of twin pregnancies and subsequently, the associated risks.”.