For many couples in Singapore, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) may be the key to overcoming their infertility issues and achieving their dreams of parenthood. Here are some IVF FAQs that will help you through your thought process if you are considering IVF.
What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is one of the most common forms of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). It involves extracting mature eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilising them with her husband’s or donor’s sperm. The fertilised egg(s) are then incubated and selected embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus to facilitate pregnancy. Additional eggs may be frozen for future use.
Who is a suitable candidate for IVF?
IVF is typically recommended for two groups of patients:
  • Couples below 35 years old who are having difficulties conceiving after 1 year of regular sexual intercourse, without the use of contraception
  • Couples above 35 years old who are having difficulties conceiving after 6 months of regular sexual intercourse, without the use of contraception
IVF may also be recommended for couples who experience the following problems:
  • Blocked, damaged or missing fallopian tubes
  • Ovulation disorders such as premature ovarian failure and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Endometriosis
  • Male factor infertility such as low sperm count and abnormal sperm function
  • Unexplained infertility
How long will an IVF cycle take?
IVF is a complex but established procedure composed of a series of steps, including ovarian stimulation, egg maturation and retrieval, sperm extraction, fertilisation (insemination), embryo development and embryo transfer. Taking into account consultations, test preparations, medications, monitoring and waiting times between steps, one IVF cycle typically takes about 4 to 6 weeks—similar to the duration of a normal ovulation cycle.
What is the success rate of IVF?
IVF has an overall success rate of 40% for women under 35. The success rate varies from person to person, with age being an important factor.
Is IVF painful?
As with all medical procedures, some steps of the IVF process may cause some minor discomfort. During ovarian stimulation, fertility medications have to be injected on a daily basis for up to 12 days, which may be painful or stressful to some women.
The egg retrieval process is virtually painless as it is done under IV sedation. Mild cramps may be felt following the egg retrieval but this should subside by the next day.
During the embryo transfer step, the embryo is implanted into the uterus through a small catheter. This step rarely requires sedation nor is it painful, though you might experience mild cramping.
Is there an increased chance of conceiving a baby with birth defects through IVF?
Overall, it is generally recognised that the chances of conceiving a baby with birth defects through IVF are the same as that of natural conception.