In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of several techniques available to help people with fertility problems have a baby.
During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman’s womb to grow and develop.
It can be carried out using your eggs and your partner’s sperm, or eggs and/or sperm from donors.
If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, you should start by speaking to your GP. They can advise on how to improve your chances of having a baby.
If these measures don’t work, your doctor can refer you to a fertility specialist for a treatment such as IVF.
IVF involves six main stages:
Once the embryo(s) has been transferred into your womb, you’ll need to wait two weeks before having a pregnancy test, to see if the treatment has worked.
The success rate of IVF depends on the age of the woman undergoing treatment, as well as the cause of the infertility (if it’s known).
Younger women are more likely to have a successful pregnancy. IVF isn’t usually recommended for women above the age of 42, because the chances of a successful pregnancy are thought to be too low.
In 2010, the percentage of IVF treatments that resulted in a live birth was:
Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding alcohol, smoking and caffeine during treatment may improve your chances of having a baby with IVF.
IVF doesn’t always result in pregnancy, and it can be both physically and emotionally demanding. You should be offered counseling to help you through the process.
There are also a number of health risks involved, including: