IVF is a more complex treatment than IUI. It involves taking medication to suppress the natural ovulation cycle and then taking a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) so the ovaries produce many mature eggs at the same time. This medication is self-administered as an injection.
The ovaries are carefully monitored and then before egg collection a final hormone injection is given to help the eggs mature. The eggs are collected through the vagina using a needle, which is inserted into each follicle in turn. The eggs are then mixed with sperm in the laboratory to create embryos.
To help prepare the lining of the womb for pregnancy a further hormone treatment is given and this is often in the form of a pessary.
The embryos develop for a few days in an incubator, before one is selected for transfer to the womb. The embryo is carefully selected by experienced embryologists and introduced into the womb using a catheter using an ultrasound monitor screen.
Any remaining embryos of suitable quality are frozen and stored for further treatment whether this is for subsequent attempts following failed treatment or for treatment to create future siblings. Subsequent Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) treatment requires less medication and is cheaper than a fresh IVF cycle.