This Morning: Sharon Marshall emotionally discusses IVF struggles
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“Those who are eligible for NHS IVF treatment must follow the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s fertility criteria (NICE),” Hudson pointed out; this includes being a heterosexual women under the age of 43. Moreover, you must have been attempting to conceive naturally for at least two years. “Alternatively, NHS-funded IVF is available to women who have undergone 12 rounds of artificial or intrauterine insemination,” Hudson added.
“However, local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) make the ultimate decision on whether someone is eligible for IVF on the NHS.
“And their criteria can differ from those stated by the national authority, NICE.”
The IVF process
After an initial consultation with your doctor, you should be referred to a fertility specialist for further examination.
Tests may include a physical exam, an ultrasound, hormonal tests to check how well the ovaries are working, and a semen analysis for the male partner (or donor).
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If the specialist decides that IVF is the best treatment for you, you can expect an in-depth discussion about all the risks and benefits of the process.
While fertility treatments are generally safe, Hudson assured, some women may overreact to the fertility medication.
Known as hyperstimulation syndrome, symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Hyperstimulation syndrome symptoms
The Mayo Clinic listed possible symptoms of hyperstimulation syndrome, such as:
- Mild to moderate abdominal pain
- Abdominal bloating or increased waist size
- Tenderness in the area of your ovaries.
Hudson said: “The incidence of this condition has decreased over the years as the medications used have changed.
“And the number of cycles where an embryo is not transferred back right away has increased.
“Getting pregnant can make this condition worse, so sometimes embryo transfers are delayed in these cases to avoid the possibility.”
Returning to the steps involved in IVF, Hudson explained the treatment begins with ovarian stimulation.
Ovarian stimulation involves the use of hormones to encourage the ovaries to create numerous eggs, rather than one that naturally develops each month.
“The eggs will then be extracted and either stored or utilised immediately to try to produce embryos,” she explained.
“If the treatment plan calls for creating embryos straight away, the laboratory will want a sperm sample available when the eggs are extracted.”
The embryologist will then try to fertilise the eggs in a few different ways, including:
- Putting sperm in the same dish as the eggs
- Injecting a single sperm into each egg.
“The embryology team will find out how many of them successfully fertilised the next day,” Hudson added.
“The fertilised eggs are then cultured in a laboratory to monitor their growth and development.”
Be aware that the number of fertilised eggs will not match the number of eggs harvested in the first place.
“The fertilised embryos can subsequently be transferred to the woman’s uterus or preserved for future use.”
Cynthia Hudson is the VP Clinical Strategy & Specimen Services at TMRW Life Sciences.
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