We create new possibilities for life We create new possibilities for life

WhatsApp Appointment

Orchard  +65 8111 7777

Novena  +65 8111 5777

  • Mount Elizabeth

In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)

  • What is IVF?

    newborn baby and mother

    In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) which helps couples become pregnant. The procedure involves collecting mature eggs from the ovaries, which will then be fertilised by sperm in a laboratory. It can be performed using the egg and sperm from the couple or from donors. The fertilised egg or eggs (embryos) are transferred back into the mother’s uterus.

    While IVF is the most effective form of ART, the chances of having a healthy baby depends on many factors, including a woman’s age and the reason why the couple is unable to conceive.

    If you and your partner are considering IVF, speak to a fertility specialist about the procedure and what to expect from the treatment.

  • Why do you need IVF?

    Why do you need IVF?

    IVF can be recommended for infertility due to a variety of situations, that may affect either a male or female reproductive system.

    Factors affecting women may include:

    • Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, or women who have had their fallopian tubes removed

      This makes it difficult for an egg to be fertilised or the embryo to travel to the uterus.
    • Ovulation disorders

      In which a woman may produce eggs infrequently or not at all. With fewer eggs, the chances for fertilisation are reduced.
    • Endometriosis

      A condition in which the uterine tissue grows outside the uterus, and affects the normal functioning of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.
    • Uterine fibroids

      These are benign tumours in the walls of the uterus that make it difficult for the fertilised egg to stick to the uterine wall (or to develop).
    • Tubal sterilisation or removal of the fallopian tubes

      This would permanently prevent pregnancy.

    Factors affecting men may include:

    • Decreased sperm count or sperm motility

      Lower sperm count, weak movement of the sperm, as well as abnormalities in sperm size and shape, can make it more difficult for the sperm to fertilise an egg.

    In addition, there are other factors that may affect either partner, including:

    • Genetic disorders

      Parents who are concerned about passing on certain disorders to their children may choose to undergo preimplantation genetic testing, which involves IVF. Under these circumstances, eggs are harvested and fertilised, then screened for certain genetic problems. Embryos which are free from these genetic disorders are then transferred to the uterus.
    • Unexplained infertility

      In some couples, doctors are unable to find a cause for infertility, despite testing for potential causes.
    • Fertility preservation

      Cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy can affect fertility, hence female patients may have their eggs harvested and frozen for later use.

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

  • What can you 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.

    These steps provide an overview to the procedure:

    Step 1: Ovulation stimulation and monitoring of egg follicle growth

    To begin, your doctor will prescribe medications to help stimulate production and maturation of the eggs.

    • Medication for ovarian stimulation and oocyte maturation

      Natural hormonal medications known as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), which are naturally produced by the body, will help to stimulate the ovaries to produce oocytes (eggs).
    • Medications for oocyte maturation

      When the eggs are mature and ready to be retrieved, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is injected to trigger the release of mature eggs.
    • Medications to prevent premature ovulation

      To delay ovulation and thereby increase a woman’s chances of producing fertile, mature eggs, a medication called gonadotropin releasing hormone analogs (GnRH) are used.
    • Medications to prepare the lining of the uterus

      Progesterone supplements may be recommended to prepare the lining of the uterus for the implantation of the egg or embryo.

    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 the maturation of developing eggs and to 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

    Prior to the retrieval process, you will be advised to fast for 6 hours. Upon your arrival at Mount Elizabeth Fertility Centre, our friendly staff will escort you into the operating theatre.

    Here is what you can expect:

    • You will be administered a sedative and pain medication to ensure your comfort during the procedure, which usually lasts around 30 minutes.
    • The egg or eggs are retrieved using transvaginal ultrasound aspiration, in which an ultrasound probe is inserted to identify follicles.
    • A thin needle is guided into the follicles, through which the egg or eggs are retrieved with the help of a suction device.
    • The egg or eggs are then stored in a liquid known as a culture medium and incubated.

    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 are then fertilised with sperm 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.

    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: Embryo (blastocyst) transfer

    After 5 days, the healthiest embryos (blastocysts) are then transferred into the mother’s uterus through a very fine catheter that is passed through the cervix.

    Our experienced fertility specialists will ensure that the procedure is performed under abdominal scan guidance to ensure ideal placement of the embryos.

    After the embryo transfer, patients are recommended to have adequate rest and to refrain from strenuous activities for the next 2 weeks.

    Step 6: Embryo vitrification (if required)

    Should there be excess embryos of good quality, the couple could also decide if they would like them to be stored for future use.

    Step 7: Pregnancy testing

    Two weeks after the embryo 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.

  • Emotional support during IVF treatment

    emotional support for couples during IVF

    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 there is often no explanation for why it occurs. It is important to support each other and to move on together.

    Through advancements in the field of ART, 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 feel stressed by the experience – you’re not alone. Find a counsellor or a therapist to talk to, or 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 this time, it is important to manage emotional stress to optimise the chances of pregnancy. Studies have shown that chronic stress results in hormonal changes that may interfere with eggs development and pregnancy success rate. Stress may also interfere with the immune system and 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 you can. 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 shown in certain studies to improve pregnancy rates when done in conjunction with the IVF cycle. Depending on your doctor’s instructions, it is possible to enjoy other activities in tandem with the treatments, such as massaging to assist in the relaxation, as well as participating in various forms of exercise.

    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 is 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 an 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.

  • Why choose Mount Elizabeth Hospitals?

    Mount Elizabeth Hospitals

    Mount Elizabeth Hospitals has 40 years’ experience in helping patients lead healthier lives. Our world-class medical facilities, dedicated doctors and skilled staff are experienced and trained to provide quality care. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, we are ready to help.

    Make an Enquiry or Appointment Our Specialists