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Your IVF Journey

  • What is IVF?

    newborn baby and mother

    In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) which helps couples become pregnant by fusing the egg and sperm together in an external laboratory setting, where subsequently, the highest quality embryos are selected and transferred back into the mother’s uterus.

    IVF can be recommended for infertility due to a variety of situations, including the following:

    • Women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, or who have had their fallopian tubes removed
    • Male factor infertility including decreased sperm count or sperm motility
    • Women with ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, or conditions such as endometriosis and uterine fibroids
    • Individuals with a genetic disorder
    • Unexplained infertility

    At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, our team of experienced fertility specialists, embryologists and nurses are here to assist you in overcoming infertility.

  • What to Expect During IVF

    couple embarking on IVF

    At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, we take pride in empowering our patients with education and knowledge so that patients make the right decision together with the doctor. Prior to undergoing treatment, both partners will have to undergo tests and preparation, as well as attend a counselling session in order to understand the upcoming requirements for IVF treatment.

    Step 1: Stimulation and monitoring of follicle growth

    First, your doctor will prescribe natural hormonal medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce oocytes (eggs). The hormones are known as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), both naturally produced by the body. In a normal ovulation cycle, 1 egg matures every month. The goal of an IVF cycle is to result in multiple available eggs, which increases the chances of getting pregnant. Your doctor will then monitor follicle growth and medication to complete maturation of developing eggs and to and start the ovulation process. It is important to note that the woman’s ovarian function and state of health may affect the number of days of stimulation as well as the number of eggs retrieved.

    Step 2: Oocyte (egg) retrieval

    Fasting of 6 hours prior to the oocyte (egg) retrieval procedure is required. Upon your arrival at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, our friendly staff will escort you into the operating theatre. Moderate sedation will be administered to ensure comfort during the quick procedure, which usually lasts around 30 minutes.

    Step 3: Sperm Collection

    A semen sample is collected prior to or after the egg retrieval. Your fertility specialist may recommend for a frozen semen sample to be stored prior to egg collection, should there be foreseeable difficulties in the collection of a semen sample. If necessary, a special semen collecting device may be prescribed to assist with sperm collection.

    fertilisation in IVF laboratory

    Step 4: Insemination, fertilisation and embryo culture

    The retrieved eggs will be placed in culture dishes and cultured. The next step is the fertilisation of the egg. Washed sperm is mixed with the egg in a special chamber, or directly injected into the egg. Then, the sperm and egg are placed in an incubator and monitored to make sure that a healthy embryo develops. At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, the health and progress of the embryos are tracked on a daily basis. Our embryologist will contact you 1 day after the egg collection to update you on the fertilisation status of your embryos.

    Step 5: Blastocyst transfer

    On day 5, the best quality blastocysts (developed embryos) are then transferred into the mother’s uterus through a very fine catheter that is passed through the cervix. At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, our experienced fertility specialists ensure that the procedure is performed under abdominal scan guidance to ensure accurate placement of the blastocysts. After the embryo transfer, we would recommend for patient to have adequate rest and to refrain from strenuous activities for the next 2 weeks.

    Step 6: Blastocyst vitrification if required

    Should there be excess blastocysts of good quality, the team at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre will consult the couple if they would like their quality blastocysts stored for future use.

    Step 7: Pregnancy testing

    Two weeks after the blastocyst transfer, a routine urine or serum test to test for pregnancy will be performed.

    Step 8: First ultrasound to determine viability

    If the pregnancy testing yields a positive result, your fertility specialist may perform a foetal viability scan after 2 weeks to confirm the successful pregnancy.

    At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, we are committed to dedicated patient care, with continuous innovation to achieve excellent clinical outcomes. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to the team at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre.

  • Emotional Support

    emotional support for couples during IVF

    At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, we understand that the IVF journey can be an emotional and stressful journey.

    From the moment that you are diagnosed with fertility disorders, both you and your partner may be filled with dismay, denial, sadness, and confusion. It is important to acknowledge that fertility disorders are common, and at many times there is no explanation of infertility. It is important to support each other and to move on together.

    Through advancements in the field of assisted reproductive technology, there is hope for couples looking to conceive. Thus, it is vital to obtain accurate medical information and to seek the right fertility centre that both you and your partner are comfortable with.

    Once you and your partner decide to embark on the IVF journey, you may initially experience a positive range of emotions such as hope, excitement, and possibility. However, there are many steps in the IVF process and during the course of treatment, you and your partner may experience a range of negative emotions including denial, confusion, anger, stress, and isolation.

    Find the Emotional Support You Need

    couple with fertility IVF counsellor

    Stress management and counselling

    Couples undergoing fertility treatment often have these feelings – you’re not alone. Find a counsellor or a therapist to talk to during this journey. Consider attending support groups where you can meet and talk to other couples on a similar journey. During support sessions, you will be there not just to be supported or to hear how others have coped, but you can give support and strength to other couples who are struggling as well. Knowing that you are not alone and having mutual support will benefit you immensely on your IVF journey. At Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, additional counselling by a trained psychologist or a counsellor may be arranged should you feel the need for more support.

    During your IVF journey, it is important to adequately manage excessive emotional stress as to optimise the chances of pregnancy. Studies have shown that chronic stress may result in hormonal changes that may interfere with eggs development and pregnancy success rate. Stress may also interfere with the immune system and may increase the likelihood of a woman’s body in rejecting an embryo. Talk to your fertility specialist about your emotions and ask for help if necessary.

    loving and mutually supportive couple

    Letting go of anxiety and self-blame

    Couples must realise that no matter how hard they try to become pregnant, no one can guarantee a successful outcome. If you are worried that you will never get pregnant, let those worries go and focus on other aspects of the relationship between you and your partner. While we cannot choose our external circumstances, we can always choose how we feel and respond to it.

    Many couples also tend to question or blame themselves. Know that if treatment fails, it doesn't make you a failure. If you are following the recommendations of the professionals and maintaining healthy self-care, you are doing everything right. The IVF journey is not easy and you are doing your best. Remember to affirm yourself and your partner for that.

    Get help from friends and family

    Find individuals among your family and friends whom you believe are supportive and understanding, and inform them that you need their help and support during this time. Keep talking to people about how you feel and let them in on your journey. Let them know how they can help you both practically and emotionally.

    Role of complementary treatments

    Discuss with your doctor should you wish to undergo complementary treatments during the IVF cycle. Acupuncture has been shows in certain studies to improve pregnancy rates when done in conjunction with the IVF cycle. Depending on your doctor’s instructions, massage to assist in the relaxation as well as various forms of exercising may be enjoyed in tandem with the treatments. Talk to your doctor to find out more.

    Switching up your nutrition and lifestyle

    It is important to establish optimal health prior to embarking on any fertility treatment. A balanced, healthy diet with regular exercise are key to optimising a couple’s chances of success. Women planning for pregnancy should ensure a daily intake of at least 4mg folate, which has been shown to reduce birth defects incidents affecting the brain, spinal cord, and heart. Dietary sources rich in folate include a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes, wholegrain bread, and cereals.

    Men may require additional supplementation of minerals such as zinc and carnitine. For both men and women, iron and vitamin C are important in reducing the risk of anaemia. Talk to your doctor to understand the required intake of other vitamin and mineral supplements.

    The team at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre recommends that both parties should stop smoking and avoid alcohol. Smoking reduces the chances of a successful pregnancy, and may lead to increased incidence of miscarriage, poorer response to medication prescribed during fertility treatments, damage to sperm DNA, and reduced sperm count.

    As the IVF journey may be an extensive and emotionally demanding one, it is essential to help and support each other. Giving up smoking is a great place to start.

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