In vitro fertilization is the process of producing test tube babies. The process is a scientific approach for helping the patients to reproduce with artificial insemination. The procedure is carried out in special labs. These labs preserve the fertilized embryo. The procedure has been a success for scientific fertility. The egg of the female and sperm of the male are scientifically preserved in a laboratory to fertilize. Once the embryos develop, they are artificially inseminated in the woman's womb, and then develop into a full human baby naturally in the woman's womb. In cases where the male partner is not capable of producing motile sperm, or is carrying a genetic disorder, then sperm of a sperm donor can also be utilized.
In vitro fertilization is divided into steps which include:
- Controlled ovarian hyper stimulation. The fertility drug named Lupron is used. It causes the pituitary gland to release sufficient amounts of FSH and LH hormones and helps keep their blood levels low during the last few days of follicle growth.
- Egg retrieval. This is the procedure where a sterile probe for vaginal ultrasound is used in guiding a needle through the wall of the vagina into the follicles of the ovary. This is performed in the procedure room by an anaesthesiologist. In egg fertilization and embryo culture assisted hatching of the eggs and sperms are kept in a tray containing liquid nutrient and are placed in an incubator for overnight and examined the next day to determine if the fertilized eggs are normal. The procedure is helpful for women who are over 38 years or having repeated failures of ART cycles. It results in successful hatching of the eggs from their shells, called zona pellucida.
- Embryo transfer. This takes place five days after the egg collection where the embryo is places inside the woman's uterus by injecting it through the cervix into the uterine cavity during speculum examination. In cases where more than one embryo develops during the procedure, the additional embryos are preserved.
Sometimes complications arise, the most common of which is when more than one embryo develops. This problem leads to many other problems that might turn fatal for the mother. The problems can vary from miscarriages, to premature delivery, obstetrical problems and even neonatal morbidity. Such problems can also effect the growth and fitness of the developing child. There are chances that the child will be born underweight. The fatal risk is developing ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome.
The cost of in vitro fertilization varies from country to country. The highest cost paid to date is $41,000 in the US, followed by the United Kingdom at $40,000. The average cost recorded in the US is about $12,000 plus medications. The cost also depends upon the kind of health care system and other required procedures being taken if required for the successful completion of the procedure.
The costs also include ovarian stimulation monitoring, anaesthesia for egg retrieval, the egg retrieval procedure, fertilization and culture of the eggs, embryo transfer, physician's fees, and in vitro fertilization lab and facility fees. In some clinics, additional features are included like pre-in vitro fertilization screening tests, medications, embryo or sperm freezing or storage, pregnancy testing and monitoring of early pregnancy and consultations with the physician. In some clinics the assurance of some value of the fee is refundable if the procedure is not successful.