Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Fertility Unit
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital

Invitro fertilisation (IVF)

What is IVF?

IVF stands for Invitro Fertilisation, which is fertilisation of eggs with sperm outside of the body. 

In a natural cycle you have up to 30 follicles in your ovaries. However, only one of these follicles will become dominant and produce a mature egg.  With IVF, the goal is to develop several of these follicles to become dominant, increasing the number of mature eggs.

These eggs are then collected, fertilised in the laboratory, cultured for several days and then one (or in special cases two) embryos may be transferred back to the uterus. Any additional embryos of good quality may be frozen and stored for further use.


STEPS IN AN IVF CYCLE

1

Preventing premature ovulation by shutting down communication between the brain and the ovaries, so that the eggs are not lost before they can be collected.

2

Stimulating the ovaries with injections of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)

3

‘Triggering' ovulation with an injection of hCG (called the night time trigger injection)

4

Collecting the eggs and sperm

5

Fertilising and culturing embryos in the laboratory

6

Transferring the embryo

7

Supporting the endometrium after transfer with hCG or progesterone

Drugs used in IVF

  • Provera: helps prevent cysts forming in the ovaries during long down regulation (see Glossary) and to bring on a period.

  • Synarel or Lucrin: act on the pituitary gland to interrupt its control over egg development and ovulation.

  • FSH (Puregon / Gonal F): stimulates the ovaries to produce multiple follicles.

  • HCG trigger injection (Pregnyl / Ovidrel): triggers the follicle to release the egg.

  • Crinone / Pregnyl: Mid luteal support to maintain endometrial thickness.

Possible complications

Failure to stimulate, bleeding, infection, bladder and bowel perforation at egg collection, ovarian hyperstimulation, ovarian torsion, spontaneous pregnancy after unprotected intercourse from Day 8 of stimulation onwards, empty follicles (no eggs), spontaneous ovulation prior to egg collection (very rare), partner unable to collect on the day or no sperm in sample, failed fertilisation, biochemical pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, multiple pregnancy, early delivery.