IVF Information

Infertility Problem:

If you’ve been trying for a baby for a year or more without luck, it’s time to look at the problem and find out what you can do about it. Here are some facts about infertility and IVF to get you started:

You’re not alone: About 15 per cent of couples — nearly one in six — have difficulties conceiving. Over time, some of these couples will conceive spontaneously after trying for a long time, some will have a baby after undergoing infertility treatment or by adopting, and some will remain childless.

What’s the problem: Your doctor will request tests from you and investigate you and your partners test reports to pinpoint why you can not conceive, because knowing the cause of infertility guides your treatment. 

Causes of infertility: About one-third of infertility cases in couples are due to a male fertility problem, another third are due to a female fertility problem, and the final third are either due to both male and female fertility problems or of an unknown cause. 

Why us: It’s normal to feel shocked, angry and sad when you discover that you’re infertile.

Low-tech options: Depending on the situation of your infertility, your doctor may suggest you try a low-tech fertility treatment alternative. If this treatment doesn’t work, your next option is usually IVF.

Time for IVF: For certain causes of infertility, IVF is the only way to help you have a family. If that’s the case for you, read up as much as you can about treatment, because being well-prepared is the best way to handle the highs and lows that inevitably accompany treatment.


Improving Your Chances of IVF Success

Research indicates that by getting into shape before you start IVF you can improve your odds of the treatment being successful. To boost your chances of overcoming infertility and falling pregnant, follow these rules:

Avoid smoking: Smokers have lower fertility than non-smokers and smoking reduces your chances of IVF success.

Don’t carry a lot of excess weight: Try to keep your body mass index (BMI) in the normal range of 18.5 to 25. A BMI higher than this can cause hormonal imbalances that disrupt ovulation and reduce sperm quality, which of course decrease the likelihood of conception, both spontaneous and with IVF. Don’t despair if you have a lot of weight to lose: Losing even just five to ten kilograms can greatly improve your chances of IVF success.

Follow a balanced diet: A well-balanced diet is essential not only for your health but also for the wellbeing of a growing foetus. The bulk of your daily diet should consist of cereals, pasta and rice. You should also have three to five servings of vegetables and two to four servings of fruit, and two to three servings each of low-fat dairy products and meat/poultry/fish/beans for protein. Finally, go easy on sweet goodies and fats.

Don’t consume too much caffeine: Women who consume a lot of caffeine — more than three cups of coffee per day — may take longer to conceive.

Restrict your alcohol intake: Alcohol is known to decrease fertility and increase the risk of miscarriage.

Take folic acid supplements: Getting enough folic acid before conception and during the early stages of pregnancy greatly reduces the risk of the baby having neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

Start IVF treatment ASAP: Age is IVF’s worst enemy. In a nutshell, your odds of having a successful pregnancy decrease dramatically as you approach age 40.


Understanding the Steps in an IVF TreatmentCycle

If you need IVF to treat your infertility, your doctor will provide you with tonnes of information about what treatment entails. Here’s the short version of the steps involved in an IVF treatment cycle.

Ovarian stimulation.

Your doctor prescribes a course of drugs for you to take to stimulate your ovaries into hopefully producing 12 to 15 mature eggs.

Monitoring of your drug response.

To monitor the progress of your ovarian stimulation you undergo an ultrasound examination and blood tests.

Egg maturation.

Two days before your eggs are due to be collected you have a hormone injection, which triggers maturation of the eggs.

Egg collection.

You receive a light general anaesthetic for this simple, short procedure, and your doctor retrieves your eggs using an ultrasound-guided technique.

Sperm production.

On the day of egg collection, your partner provides a sperm sample.


The embryologist puts sperm and eggs together in the lab and, if all goes well, the eggs fertilise and early embryo development begins.

Embryo transfer.

Three to five days after egg collection, your doctor places one or three embryos in your uterus (Embryo transfer).

Embryo freezing.

If you have additional embryos suitable for use, they can be frozen and kept for future transfers.

Pregnancy test.

Twelve days after embryo transfer you have a blood test, which is called  Beta HCG test to find out whether the treatment is positive or negative.

If the test is positive, you have your first pregnancy scan two weeks later.

If the test is negative, you and your partner need to talk to your doctor and decide whether to try the treatment again.

Frequently Asked Questions

When a woman cannot carry her own pregnancy to term, some work with another woman who agrees to be a gestational surrogate. Specialists use IVF to make embryos with a woman’s eggs and her partner’s sperm. The surrogate is the one who goes through the pregnancy after IVF. But her DNA is not involved. The baby will be the biological child of both husband and wife.

Women who are over 40, have poor egg quality, or have not had success with previous cycles may consider an egg donor. This involves combining the man’s sperm with another woman’s donated eggs. If the procedure works, the woman becomes pregnant with a child who is biologically related to her partner but not herself.

Doctors will inject the sperm directly into the egg in a lab. This technique, called “ICSI” (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), helps when a man’s sperm count is very low or his sperm don’t move well. When the fertilized egg is ready, it goes into the woman’s uterus through the normal IVF process.

Fertile women can choose IUI using sperm from a donor. It may take several tries, but pregnancy rates are over 80%. You and your partner may want to see a counsellor first, to make sure you’re both ready to raise a child who is not biologically related to the father.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is a popular procedure for many fertility problems. Doctors place the man’s sperm into the woman’s uterus, but not into the egg itself, while she ovulates. You may also need to take drugs to prompt your body to ovulate. IUI is less expensive and simpler than IVF (in vitro fertilization), but pregnancy rates are much lower.

These include:

  • Low sperm count
  • Poor sperm movement
  • Misshaped sperm
  • Blocked sperm ducts

A few lifestyle changes can make a difference. If you smoke, quit. Smoking lowers fertility for men and women and dims pregnancy rates. In one study, men who stopped smoking saw their sperm counts climb 800%. Also, check your diet. Is it as healthy as possible? Ask your doctor about supplements. Some vitamins and

It has shown promise for many conditions. Now, some couples are trying this popular form of traditional Chinese medicine to address infertility. Research suggests it may improve sperm quality and blood flow to the uterus, help smooth out irregular ovulation, and boost IVF success rates.

Knowing your menstrual cycle improves your chances of getting pregnant. The first phase starts with the first day of your period or blood flow. Your body releases hormones that makes the eggs inside your ovaries grow. Between day 2 and 14, those hormones also help thicken the lining of your uterus to get ready for a fertilized egg. This is called the follicular stage.

The average menstrual cycle is 28-32 days. Ovulation usually happens between day 11 and 21 of your cycle. A hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH) surges, triggering the release of the egg that's ripest. At the same time, your cervical mucus becomes more slippery to help sperm make their way to the egg.

Generally, the highest chance of pregnancy is when sex happens1-2 days before ovulation. If you have a regular 28-day cycle, count back 14 days from when you expect your next period to start. Plan on having sex every other day around that time -- say, days 12 and 14.  Keep in mind that having sex every day may lower a man's sperm count. Your cycle may be longer or shorter, so an online ovulation calculator may help you identify the likely day.

After your body releases an egg, the hormone progesterone kicks in to help build and maintain the lining of the uterus. Progesterone causes your body temperature to go up slightly. So taking your temperature with a basal thermometer every morning before getting out of bed can help you figure out if you ovulated. These thermometers are available at the drugstore and are inexpensive, but they aren't as accurate as other methods for tracking ovulation.

A surge in LH triggers your ovaries to release the egg. The surge usually happens 36 hours before the egg is released. Ovulation kits check LH levels in your urine to help you pinpoint the day of ovulation. These kits, which are available at drugstores, are convenient and highly accurate. You may want to test 1-2 days before you expect the surge so you can note the rise in LH.

During the second half of your menstrual cycle, the hormone progesterone kicks in to help prepare the lining of your uterus for a fertilized egg. If the egg isn't fertilized and doesn't implant, it disintegrates, progesterone levels fall, and about 12 to 16 days later, the egg -- along with blood and tissues from the lining of the uterus -- is shed from the body. That process is menstruation. It usually lasts 3 to 7 days. Then the cycle begins again.

There is growing evidence that links environment to fertility. If you want to boost your chances of getting pregnant, you may want to:

  • Eat foods rich in folic acids.
  • Buy more organic foods and green products.
  • Avoid certain plastics (including plastic wrap).
  • Maintain a healthy body weight through diet and exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

A study found that women whose body mass index (BMI) was above normal took twice as long to get pregnant as those with a normal BMI. If you're overweight or obese, losing weight can boost your fertility and chances of getting pregnant. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a drop in weight of 5%-10% can dramatically improve ovulation and pregnancy rates. Obesity can also cause infertility and low testosterone in men. Being significantly underweight can also lead to infertility.

Fertility goes down with age, especially after the mid-30s. It also lowers the chances that fertility treatments will be successful. Experts say you should talk to your doctor if you're under 35 and have been trying to conceive for more than 12 months, or over 35 and have been trying for more than 6 months.

Studies show that sperm count and sperm movement decrease as men age, as does sexual function. But there isn't a cut-off age that makes a man too old to father a child. One study found that it took men age 45 or older longer to get a woman pregnant once the couple started trying. If your partner is older, you may want to talk to your doctor about ways to boost your chances.

  • Manage stress.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco.
  • Maintain a proper weight.
  • Eat a diet high in zinc (found in meat, whole grains, seafood, and eggs), selenium (meat, seafood, mushroom, cereals, and Brazil nuts), and vitamin E. 
  • Keep the testicles cool -- no long, hot baths, hot tubs, or saunas, which can reduce the number of sperm.