For many couples, IVF offers the best (and in some cases, only) chance of having a baby. It can be used to overcome a wide range of fertility issues in both men and women.
Virtus Health has helped more than 50,000 couples achieve their dream of a family through IVF treatment, and now their expertise is available in Singapore.
- How does IVF work?
During an IVF procedure, sperm fertilises the eggs in a laboratory. 'In vitro’ means ‘in glass’, as fertilisation happens in a glass (or plastic) dish, rather than in the fallopian tubes.
The female eggs are taken from the body and are fertilised with sperm in the laboratory. The resulting embryos are then placed back into the woman’s body for conception.
- The IVF & ICSI Process Explained
- The IVF process step by step
The active phase of an IVF treatment takes place in the first two weeks of a cycle and involves a number of steps. Here we explain what happens in a typical IVF cycle:
Step 1: Medication
You’ll start your IVF treatment (cycle) with some medication to stimulate hormones, including injections of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). This helps your ovaries produce more eggs than usual.
Step 2: Monitoring
Throughout your cycle, regular blood tests measure your hormone levels. We also use ultrasounds to measure the size and number of your ovarian follicles so we can work out the best time to collect the eggs.
Step 3: Egg collection day
First you’ll have a trigger injection of hCG (human chorionic gonatrophin) to trigger ovulation. 36 to 38 hours later, the eggs are collected in day surgery by your Fertility Specialist and our Scientific Director. They use an ultrasound to guide them through this process. On the same morning, your partner will provide a fresh semen (sperm) sample so we can immediately fertilise your eggs
Step 4: Fertilisation
This takes place in our state of the art cleanroom laboratory. The eggs and sperm are placed together in a dish. If your treatment also involves ICSI, an individual sperm is selected by a highly experienced embryologist, and, under very delicate microscopic control, each egg is injected with a single sperm.
Step 5: Embryo development
The egg and sperm are then placed in individual incubators at 37 degrees, to mimic the natural human body temperature.
Step 6: Embryo transfer
Two to five days after egg collection, up to two embryos are transferred into the uterus using a very fine catheter (it feels similar to a pap smear). Any additional embryos created can be frozen and stored for later use if you wish.
Step 7: Pregnancy test
About two weeks after the embryo transfer, you’ll have a blood test during an appointment with your Virtus Fertility Centre nurse. You will have the results that same day. If they are positive, we’ll organise an ultrasound for you for about three weeks later.
At Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore, we understand that this process can be an emotionally difficult one – especially if you have spent many years trying for a baby.
Our caring and experienced team will do everything possible to make it simple and supportive because our commitment is to you, and helping you achieve your dream of having a family.
- Blastocyst Transfer
Virtus Fertility Centre routinely recommends blastocyst culture of all embryos, which means we allow embryos to grow for five days in vitro before transferring them back to the woman’s uterus.
This is because our clinical evidence, and that of international fertility clinics, shows the chance of pregnancy following blastocyst embryo transfer is significantly higher than for cleavage stage transfer, which is when the embryo is grown in vitro for two or three days.
- Freeze-All Approach
To optimise the chances of successful pregnancy after embryo transfer, Virtus Fertility Centre has an elective 'freeze all' approach which involves freezing all embryos to be used later in a natural cycle, or in a cycle with hormonal replacement to prime the endometrium. Our 'freeze-all' approach to treatment has shown good pregnancy outcomes in all age groups. This option is offered to all patients, however in certain situations guided by the quality of the embryos development, a fresh transfer may be recommended.
The freeze-all approach increases the chances of successful pregnancy because of a number of contributing factors including the fact that it is performed when the intrauterine environment is more favourable to implantation and patients are typically more emotionally stable and less anxious, which has a positive impact on a successful IVF outcomes. Our clean-room laboratory facilities and cryopreservation techniques also ensure that frozen-thawed embryo transfers can be carried out safely and effectively.
- Emotional support during IVF treatment
Virtus Fertility Centre's counselling service is unique in Singapore, and includes support for all IVF patients as well as specialist counselling for our donor programmes and genetic testing. All our IVF patients are offered private counselling sessions prior to commencing hormone stimulation and just before embryo transfer. We find this places couples in the best possible emotional state for their treatment. Research shows that emotional and mental stability can have a positive impact on the procedure. Find out more about Virtus' certified fertility counsellors »