IVF: In-vitro fertilisation

In vitro fertilisation, IVF, is the process where an egg is removed from a woman and is fertilised in a laboratory with a sperm obtained from her partner. This fertilised egg is then implanted into the woman's womb.

It is quoted that 7,000 IVF babies are born each year. IVF babies are sometimes referred to as "test-tube babies" due to the methods used.

Your GP or specialist will be able to inform you whether you will be entitled to IVF treatment on the NHS.

Do you need IVF?

Your GP or specialist may recommend IVF if any of the following apply:

How does IVF work?

There are several steps involved in IVF. These include:
  • For the woman:
    • Medication to stop your monthly cycle
    • Medication to stimulate your ovaries and increase the number of your eggs
    • Regular check-ups, blood tests and ultrasound scans to monitor your eggs
    • Egg collection - this is usually done with a needle under ultrasound guidance whilst you are sedated
    • Fertilisation with sperm in the laboratory
    • Transferring the fertilised egg back into your womb - the number of eggs transferred depends on our age and the clinic
  • For the man:
    • When the eggs are collected, you will be required to provide a sperm sample
    • If you are using another source of sperm, they will be collected from the freezer, thawed and prepared

What are the success rates with IVF?

According to statistics released by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in 2006, the percentage of successful IVF births were:
  • Women under 35: 28.6%
  • Women between 35 and 37 years - 25.7%
  • Women between 38 and 40 years - 17.2%
  • Women between 40 and 42 years - 10.6%
  • Women between 43 and 44 years - 4.9%
  • Women over 44 years - 0.8%

Are there any risks with IVF?

You must ensure that you visit a reliable and qualified centre for your treatment to minimise risks and complications.

There are, of course, risks to consider when embarking upon IVF treatment which are highlighted below:
  • Failure - please see success rates quoted above
  • Reactions to prescribed medication - for example, headaches, hot flushes and mood disturbances
  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Multiple births
  • Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) - potentially life-threatening condition when your ovaries are over stimulated by treatment to promote egg production

You will be able to acquire more information from your specialist before treatment begins.

For further information, please visit:
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Infertility/Pages/Introduction.aspx or http://www.hfea.gov.uk/IVF.html
Ask a question
CCM is a leading international tech website. Our content is written in collaboration with IT experts, under the direction of Jeff Pillou, founder of CCM.net. CCM reaches more than 50 million unique visitors per month and is available in 11 languages.


This document, titled « IVF: In-vitro fertilisation », is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM Health (health.ccm.net).