IVF stands for “in vitro fertilization” – in vitro meaning “in glass”. This involves an egg being fertilized in a petri dish in a laboratory under very carefully controlled conditions.

In a normal, natural cycle, usually one egg ripens within a growing follicle. The egg is released and if fertilized by a sperm in one of the fallopian tubes, it travels into the uterus where it implants and grows.

With IVF, the aim is to cultivate multiple follicles to harvest many eggs, whish are surgically extracted and fertilized outside the body. They are then placed in the uterus, which has been prepared by hormone treatment to be ready to receive an embryo.

There are key stages in the IVF process when you need to put aside enough time and give priority to the treatment above all your other commitments. The procedures and drugs used in the IVF process place huge demands on the day to day routine for both you and your partner, so keep the channels of communication wide open. Research as much as you can so that you acquire detailed knowledge about every aspect of the processes that will take place. In the beginning you will feel that you know nothing, but in no time you will become an expert. This will also help you to deal with the hormonal swings that you will be going through. Ask lots of questions and read, read, read.

We will require from you all your previous fertility test results so that we can forward these to the fertility specialist who will then plan the right course of treatment for you. Once in Cape Town, you will meet your consultant to discuss in detail your medical and surgical history and any previous fertility treatments, and then decide on the appropriate course of action for you. You will be required to stay in Cape Town for a minimum of 14 days during your treatment.

For those who are undergoing IVF cycles requiring an egg donation programme, Fertility Travel works with Gift ov life, a leading egg donor agency who is SASREG accredited, to help you select a donor from a large and diverse pool.

IVF treatment usually starts within the first 2-3 days of your period. Specific medications are given to stimulate egg growth. The follicles containing eggs can be seen on an ultrasound scan and including blood tests, these are done on day 8 of your cycle.

Medications are also given to prevent ovulation prior to the time of egg collection. The eggs are then triggered 36 hours before the egg collection process. The collection procedure is performed in the fertility clinic’s procedure room with sedation administered by an Anesthetist. At this stage you will need to stay at the clinic for about 2 hours.

On the same day as the egg collection, your partner is asked to give a sperm sample and the eggs are fertilized after collection. The embryos are grown in the laboratory for 3-5 days.

Embryo transfer is performed with no anesthetic in a special procedure room. An ultrasound is performed to ensure the embryos are transferred into the correct position within the uterus. A blood test to check for pregnancy will be performed 14 days after the egg collection and for this reason you need to remain in Cape Town. The fertility specialist will advise on any further medication you will require during this time.