In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medically assisted reproduction technique used in cases of infertility or infertility. It consists in recreating in laboratory the various stages of the natural fertilization in 4 stages:
- The first step is to stimulate the woman’s ovaries by injecting hormones by injection. Nature is forced upstream with this hormonal treatment to develop the production of mature eggs in quantity.
- Then the eggs are punctured into the vagina. And on the other side, we harvest sperm from a spouse or a donor.
- In a small container called a petri dish, the punctured eggs and sperm are brought into contact. It’s fertilization.
- Once fertilization has occurred, the egg is allowed to divide to form a multitude of cells. About 72 hours after ovulation, the embryos are then returned to the woman’s uterus for implantation. This is called embryo transfer.
A blood test should then be done to confirm pregnancy. To increase the chances of pregnancy, several embryos are transferred each time, which is why IVF sometimes leads to multiple pregnancies.
What if there are embryos left?
If the couple has given their consent for all the oocytes collected to be fertilized, then the remaining embryos, known as supernumeraries, can be frozen. Their conservation period is unlimited but the couple will be asked every year, in writing, what they wish to do with them. If there is no longer any parental project, the couple can then ask to continue their conservation for a later transfer, to donate these embryos to another couple, to give them to research or to stop their conservation. If the couple has not given any notice for five years, the decision is made to stop conservation. In the event of the death of one of the members of the couple, the surviving member may not be consulted before the expiry of a period of one year from the date of death, unless he takes an early initiative on his part.
The preserved embryos may, after thawing, be placed in the uterus at a later date, without the need for a further IVF attempt.
Adverse effects of IVF
During treatment, side effects are quite frequent but they are transient and not serious: hot flashes, abdominal pain, moderate weight gain, bleeding… Complications related to the surgical puncture (bleeding, infection, anesthetic problem…) are rare. Those related to an excessive response to ovarian stimulation, called hyperstimulation, are also rare. They result in swelling and abdominal pain due to an increase in the size of the ovaries, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, more rarely rapid weight gain or even respiratory discomfort. These symptoms warrant an emergency consultation. At birth, children generally weigh slightly less than normal and there is a slightly higher rate of premature births through medically assisted reproduction (ART). Finally, there is currently no data to implicate treatments related to PMA in the risk of cancer.