What is IVF and is it a Successful Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Guest Post:

Also known as In Vitro Fertilization, IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that couples worldwide use to fall pregnant. IVF’s success rate often depends on the age and health of the woman. However, clinics like Invimed actively pursue difficult cases, often with higher success rates than those who don’t. Understanding more about the IVF process and its chances of success is a good way to prepare for this assisted reproductive technology.

What is IVF and How is it Performed?

IVF involves surgically removing eggs (oocytes) from the woman and fusing them with sperm in a laboratory. This process results in an embryo, which is then implanted at an opportune moment during the woman’s menstrual cycle.

To prepare for this process, the woman will suppress her natural monthly cycle using synthetic hormones. This process lasts for two weeks. Next, a fertility hormone called FSH is used for 10-12 days to stimulate egg production. After this, the clinic collects eggs, and may also give a further hormonal injection two days before to mature them. For women who don’t have eggs, an egg sharing bank is an option.

After successfully harvesting eggs, the clinicians leading the process fuse them with sperm in a laboratory environment. The fertilized eggs are watched closely to identify the ones that turn into embryos. Following this, embryo transfer takes place.

Embryo Transfer Options

Whether egg sharing or using their own eggs, couples using IVF face some choices when it comes to embryo transfer. It’s recommended that women under 37 opt for a single transfer. Women who are older may choose more than one embryo, although they should be aware that this could result in a multiples pregnancy. Some women under the age of 37 choose more than one egg transfer, as they may aim for a multiples pregnancy. Before opting for IVF, it’s essential that all couples find a clinic they’re happy with and which has clinicians that are professional and supportive throughout the entire process.


How do you reconcile what you wanted back then with what you want now, when those two things are mutually exclusive and make you feel like you’re somehow doing what you wanted back then an injustice? Hmm, I should probably give a little backstory.

Last October we decided to try for a third child. Since then I’ve been pregnant three times and yet still we have no baby. I got pregnant very soon after we started trying, and found out at the end of November. However on the same day I found out, I started spotting and it soon became apparent the pregnancy wasn’t going to ‘stick’ and that I was having a very early miscarriage, or chemical pregnancy. It was upsetting but we hadn’t really had a chance to become attached to the idea so not too bad, just disappointing really. It should have been a fairly straightforward thing – plenty of people have chemical pregnancies without even realising it and just think they are a heavier than normal period. However, when they tested my blood in the hospital it became apparent the hormone levels were still rising, and we then had about a month of not really knowing what was going on – maybe I hadn’t miscarried, maybe it had been twins and we’d lost one, maybe it was an ectopic pregnancy etc.

I went back and forth to the hospital with my ‘Pregnancy of Unknown Location’ which wasn’t appearing on scans but was still releasing an ‘I’m growing in here’ hormone and the whole thing was quite an ordeal. We felt unable to move forward because we didn’t know what was going on. Eventually I had an op that confirmed it wasn’t ectopic and asked the surgeon to perform a D&C at the same time but for some reason he changed his mind (and I was too loopy with the morphine afterwards to really find out why). I began to properly miscarry on Christmas Eve which wasn’t much of a present, but at least then we could move on.

We were both keen to move back into trying again and I fell pregnant again in February. No spotting but we were both a little nervous. My previous pregnancies had all been fine, completely complication-free so we had no cause for concern but still couldn’t help worrying. Still, things seemed to be ticking along nicely, though I was a little concerned by my lack of morning sickness, which I’d had badly with both the kids. We started to tell people, to think about names, and generally to plan,  but then at 12 weeks and a day I started to bleed. It was just a little at first so I was hoping it was okay but then got heavier and clottier as the day went on. I called the Early Pregnancy Unit and they said to come in for a scan the next day. I was due to have my 12 week scan the next day which made the whole thing like a bad joke really. The bleeding got heavier by evening then much worse during the night and ended up with me passing out and being taken to A&E by ambulance which was pretty scary for us all.  Later that day I had a scan and they couldn’t see anything so said it looked like everything had passed. Even though we were prepared for it, it was still so hard to hear. I can’t imagine what it would be like if we’d gone in for our scan thinking everything was okay only to find out it wasn’t. It’s a small mercy but it’s something.

For the next couple of weeks I was very up and down, obviously. It was all really upsetting and probably the worst thing that had ever happened to me but everyone around me was so supportive and I really was struck by how lucky I was. Obviously I’d rather things had been different but I didn’t have that ‘why me?’ feeling people often talk about, I didn’t feel angry, I just felt kind of quiet and sad. The worst thing was having to tell Felix that the baby wasn’t there any more. He’d been so excited about it and was terribly upset by the whole thing, which was a bit of a surprise as he’s so young. It just all felt like it happened so fast – one day everything was fine and the next it was gone.

We went on holiday a week later and I remember seeing a pregnant woman and saying to Kester that I wanted to try again as soon as we could, and he felt the same, so we got right back into trying and I found out I was pregnant again in July. On Felix’s fourth birthday actually. This time I was really sick, which seemed to be a good sign, and although we were both really nervous about something happening again, we also knew there was no reason it should and I felt quietly optimistic about it all. We were more hesitant about telling people, just in case, then at ten weeks I had some cramping and we went into the EPU for a scan. The scan showed all was fine, and it was the most amazing feeling to see a little baby wriggling around on the screen. We we so relieved, ecstatically so, and felt able to tell a few more people. Nearly told the kids too, but for some reason didn’t, which looking back I’m relieved about.

A week later, I had some strange cramping but it felt more like stomach cramps than uterine so I didn’t think much of it. However, the next day I had a little bit of spotting so called the EPU and they said to come in for another scan the next day. As the day went on it got a little heavier and a little clottier and felt so similar to how things had started before I was really losing hope. I went to bed expecting the same thing to happen as before and was a little relieved to find out it hadn’t the next morning but the relief was short-lived. At the hospital the scan showed the baby had died a week or so before, probably just a couple of days after the scan showing all was okay. Needless to say we were utterly gutted. The miscarriage itself was easier this time, not as painful etc but the emotional side of it was harder I think. I just felt utterly numb, cold and detached. I didn’t want to talk about it because what was the point? I’d said it all before just a few months ago. I did eventually talk to people about it but even then I just didn’t know what to say really. Even now, more than three weeks on I’m still pretty up and down about it all and things can set me off about it all. I find it hard to look at pregnant women, hear about miscarriages etc. and will just sob uncontrollably, but on a daily basis things are fine. Better than fine in fact.

The thing is, while we were still in the hospital I said to Kester that maybe this was a bit early to decide, but I didn’t want to try again. For us, a third baby was always a bonus, not something we felt we needed to complete our family. Of course we wanted it, and desperately wish these pregnancies had worked out, but we both feel we don’t want a baby enough to go through it all again. We’ve gone through so much both physically and emotionally this year and just don’t feel we can risk doing that to ourselves again. Even when the kids don’t understand it all, they still know something is going on and it’s unfair on them in so many regards. They really want a baby, especially Felix, but I think (or at least hope) he’d rather have us all safe, healthy and stable. I realise we might change our mind but at the moment we’re both happy with our decision. Our kids, our family –  it’s so amazing. Kester and I are so strong as a couple, always have been, and our kids are loving, intelligent and just generally wonderful. We don’t want to disrupt that. We’re extremely happy, and extremely lucky to have what we do. Yeah, aspects of this year have been utterly crappy, but I still feel like the luckiest person around.

That’s what I’m having trouble with. How can I have gone from really wanting another baby to feeling like it’s something I want to avoid so quickly? I resent the fact that the choice was, to some extent taken away from me, that our hand was forced on this issue and that things haven’t worked out as we hoped and planned, but I’m genuinely happy for things to stay as they are, just the four of us (and two mad cats). However, this makes me feel guilty – does me feeling happy about how things are now mean I’m happy I miscarried? Of course not, but sometimes it’s hard to not feel I’m doing the babies we lost a disservice, like saying they didn’t matter, weren’t wanted anyway. I know it’s a bit of a logical (or illogical) leap, but it’s still a bit of a confusing way to feel. There have been times in the last week where I’ve thought that I’m glad I only have two kids because the school run would have been a nightmare with a newborn too, or heavily pregnant, but then I feel so guilty, like it’s saying it’s a relief to have had the miscarriages. I suppose it’s just that I’m making the most of the situation we’re in rather than dwelling on what could have been but even then I feel that’s a little unfair to our kids, like I’m saying ‘they’ll do’.

Bah, I know this has been long and wittery and give kudos to anyone who has read it all, but I felt I should write it all down and thought this blog might be a good place to do it as it could be helpful to someone feeling the same way.

I would be genuinely interested in hearing anyone’s similar experiences, advice or comments on it all too. If you’re still awake that is.

Pregnancy Pals & Birth Buddies

Cornwallis House, Howard Chase, Basildon, Essex. SS14 3BB

Tel 01268 525758 / Mobile 07807 688248


In Communities and By Communities Life-Changing Programmes

Delivered by Local Parents

What We Do

Parents 1st is a grass roots social enterprise dedicated to enhancing community development and sustainability through nationally acclaimed peer support programmes. Our passion is building the strengths and skills of parents living in less advantaged communities. Community ownership is at the heart of our work. We operate on both a national and local level. Some local examples of delivery in Thurrock are antenatal parent craft sessions, fitness classes for mums-to-be, addressing the needs of fathers-to-be, as well as the programme outlined below.

Local Parents Supporting Local Parents-to-be

We have been funded by NHS South West Essex and Thurrock Council to develop a pregnancy peer support and doula (birth partner) programme across South West Essex. We will recruit and train experienced local parents who will provide support to other parents during pregnancy, childbirth and up to 6 weeks post birth as:

• Pregnancy Peer Support Workers (Pregnancy Pals)

• Doulas (Birth Buddies)

The Pregnancy Pals will be a more universal service whereas Birth Buddies will be particularly focused on parents who are considered to be vulnerable. The first group of 16 volunteers has already completed an 8 week taster course and has also embarked on the introductory training programme which will provide City and Guilds accreditation. This training programme will give the volunteers the skills they need to begin delivering support to parents-to-be. It includes principles and values, the postnatal role, the antenatal role, active birth, breastfeeding, child safeguarding, providing information and signposting. We hope to be in a position to accept referrals and begin offering this service to parents-to-be towards the end of July 2010, and aim to recruit a second set of volunteers to undertake training in the autumn.

Please contact us for more information

We would especially like to hear from:

• Organisations or agencies that might refer parents-to-be to the programme

• Organisations or agencies that might signpost volunteers to the programme

• Individuals who would like information about volunteering as a Pregnancy Pal or Birth Buddy

• Pregnant mums or expectant dads who feel they would benefit from a Pregnancy Pal or Birth Buddy

Claire Downes

Service Manager

07765 401107

Marsia Charman

Locality Development Worker

07776 253591


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