Understanding IVF Treatment Options

The first birth that emanated from in vitro (in glass) fertilization (IVF) treatment, or a “test tube baby,” as it was commonly referred at the time occurred 35 years ago. Since then countless couples and single mothers have this procedure to thank for their becoming parents to children from their own eggs and semen, donor eggs and semen, or a combination. IVF as had such a profound effect on people’s lives that in 2010, Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine “for the development of in vitro fertilization.”

As IVF treatment has evolved, so too has the success rate of the procedure, with rates reaching almost 50%[1].  It is one issue to fall pregnant using IVF yet another to bear a child with the method. Live birth rates for each IVF cycle approximate 35% for women under age 35 and decrease to 6% for women older than 40. Using an egg from an egg donor, success rates remain around 45% even for women older than 40.


The success rates were not always this high though and it has taken years of trial and error to develop new techniques that augment the IVF procedure to overcome specific problems and make it the success that it is today. Many of these techniques have long scientific names that are often abbreviated with acronyms and involve embryo profiling.

Understanding the procedure though is within the grasp of almost every layperson. For example, Preimplantatigo Genetic Screening (PGS) screens for chromosomal abnormalities and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) analyses specific molecular defect of inherited diseases resulting in the selection of an embryo that stands the best chance of ensuring a successful pregnancy.

  • Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), commonly referred to as “icksie” elps overcome problems associated with male infertility problems or where sperm cannot penetrate eggs. It involves a single sperm being directly injected directly into an egg.
  • Cryopreservation can be performed before or after fertilization and has the advantage of assisting patients who cannot conceive to become pregnant without undergoing a complete IVF cycle. It is technologically related to Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET).
  • In Vitro Maturation (IVM), is a relatively new procedure and involves the immature eggs (oocytes) being placed in a special hormone solution whereby the eggs fully mature in the laboratory. It has safety benefits for the mother as well as other specific advantages
  • Autologous Endometrial Coculture (AEC), involves placing a fertilized egg on top of a layer of endometrial cells. The cells are treated and frozen until required during the IVF treatment. AEC is a technique that has proven beneficial for couples who have poor embryo quality, poor implantation, or repeated IVF failures.

When undertaking any medical procedure logic dictates that you want to go to the best practitioner in the field. Whereas first world countries such as the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. spring to mind when considering IVF procedures, two countries worth considering may surprise you – Israel and Iceland.


Government supported policies that enable women under 45 years of age – even single women, to be subsidized to bring up to two children via IVF irrespective of the number of procedures required. Consequently, IVF in Israel has evolved to be an expertise for which Israel is renowned. Israel has 1,657 IVF procedures per million people per annum making it the country with the highest IVF rate in the world. Iceland is in second place with 899 IVF procedures per million people per annum.

Israel is a first world country with first world medical facilities and practitioners. Also, the cost of IVF procedures is lower than many other developed countries with perhaps less expertise in this very specialized field.

[box]There are numerous IVF treatments to help people achieve their dreams of having children. It is the skill of the practitioner, a little luck, and, if you are religiously inclined, some help from the Big Boss, that will ultimately determine whether people are blessed with offspring.[/box]


[1] Society for Reproductive Medicine. https://www.sartcorsonline.com/rptCSR_PublicMultYear.aspx?ClinicPKID=0

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