In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of artificial insemination in which the egg cell is not fertilised in the body of the woman, but rather “artificially” in a laboratory. The treatment is usually spread over several phases.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF for short) is the oldest and most common form of artificial insemination. The IVF method involves combining the egg cell retrieved from the woman with the man’s sperm in a test tube. After fertilisation, the fertilised egg cells are placed in the woman’s uterus.
If there are serious complicating factors or if no pregnancy occurs despite repeated use of simpler treatment methods, the egg cell can be artificially fertilised in a test tube under strictly controlled laboratory conditions.
An IVF treatment consists of two phases:
Phase 1: Hormone treatment
The ovaries are stimulated with hormones to gain as many egg cells as possible at the same time. The doctor monitors the size and maturity of the follicles in the ovaries with two or three ultrasound examinations. As soon as the egg cells appear ready for fertilisation, ovulation is induced through an injection of a further hormone.
Phase 2: Removal of the egg cell and fertilisation in the laboratory
The fertilisable egg cells are removed through the vagina 36 hours later with the help of a long, fine needle in a procedure which can be performed under a brief anaesthetic.
On the same day, fresh semen from the partner is prepared in the laboratory, placed together with the egg cells and cultivated in an incubator. If one or more egg cells are successfully fertilised and these have developed into embryos over the course of the next few days, the doctor transfers the two-day-old embryo into the uterine cavity of the woman with the help of a thin catheter.
Two weeks after the removal of the egg cells, the result is established. The blood values will show whether the female body has accepted the pregnancy, or not.
If the man’s sperm demonstrates reduced quality or limited mobility, or if there is a limited number of sperm available, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be performed.
To be able to carry out IVF or ICSI treatment, the following requirements must be fulfilled:
- Basic data exists (hormone examination of the woman, ultrasound, spermiogram)
- Age of the woman maximum between 43-44 years, age of the man maximum 63-65 years
- Negative HIV, hepatitis B/C, syphilis status of both partners
- Proven immunity to rubella and chickenpox
- Stable partnership (the couple does not have to be married)
The selection of embryos by sex or external characteristics is prohibited by law in Switzerland.
The probability of success depends primarily on the age of the woman and her individual ovarian reserve. From the age of 35, the chances of success start to decrease and are halved by the age of 40.
During the diagnostic phase, various tests are carried out, the results of which permit a relatively precise assessment of your personal situation. Your attending doctor will inform you about the chances of you having children before you make the decision whether to undergo IVF.