There are a number of different assisted conception treatments available and all of them aim to increase the chance of pregnancy by enhancing what happens in nature.
Assisted insemination, or intrauterine insemination (IUI), is a technique in which sperm are placed into a woman’s cervix or uterus, using a soft, thin plastic tube around the time that ovulation is expected.
For women who have normal tubes but rarely or never ovulate and whose partners have a normal sperm count, Ovulation Induction (OI) using hormones to provide controlled ovarian stimulation may be recommended, using tablets or injections.
The most common cause of anovulation is polycystic ovaries. For those women who regularly ovulate, stimulation can be utilised to increase the chances of pregnancy as it increases the number of follicles that develop fully, therefore the number of eggs ovulated during a cycle. This process does however carry a risk of multiple pregnancy and there is a direct correlation between your chance of pregnancy and risk of a high order multiple pregnancy.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
IVF is the process in which a woman’s eggs are fertilised outside the womb.
In conventional IVF, between 50,000 and 100,000 sperm are placed in a container with the woman’s eggs. Over the next few hours the sperm will gradually work through the outer cells and hopefully one sperm will successfully fertilise the egg.
A day after the sperm has been introduced to the eggs, they will be checked to see if the eggs have fertilised successfully. This is recognised by the presence of pronuclei and, in normal fertilisation, there should be two pronuclei – one from the sperm and one from the egg.
A good result is if 80% of the eggs collected have two pronuclei on Day 1. Several days later one embryo will be transferred to the woman’s uterus and additional good quality embryos can then be frozen and stored for later use.
Human beings are very inefficient reproducers. The majority of embryos that we make, whether in nature or in the IVF lab, don’t have the correct number of chromosomes.
Testing embryos doesn’t change them, and having a normal embryo doesn’t guarantee that it will become a baby. But if a couple have a number of blastocysts we can determine which ones will never become healthy babies and therefore limit the number of times an embryo transfer will fail.
Our goal is to limit the number of times a woman has to go through ovarian stimulation and egg collection, which is the most physically, emotionally and financially difficult part of the IVF process. If you’re considering IVF, PGD could be an important part of the equation towards you achieving your goal faster.
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)
PGD involves analysing the cells removed from an embryo on day five or six of development.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
If the chance of fertilisation with conventional IVF is poor, then a procedure called Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) can be used.
Once fertilisation has occurred, the cells will naturally divide and increase in number over the following days.
There are a number of reasons that couples or individuals may want to consider preserving their fertility.
Donor Eggs and Sperm
Donated eggs or sperm may present the only opportunity for some people to have a baby who otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so.
Surrogacy is when one woman carries a baby, which is not genetically her own, and delivers it for another person or couple.
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