Once you’ve made it through your initial appointments, an IVF treatment cycle usually takes approximately two weeks, depending of course on what your personal plan involves.
1. Your Fertility Specialist appointment
At your first appointment with your expert baby-maker (PS: let’s keep that name a secret between us because they seem to prefer Fertility Specialist), they’ll review your medical history as well as check over all of the other investigations and treatments you’ve had before. If you have a partner, it’s a good idea for both of you to come to the first appointment with your Fertility Specialist. If you’re entitled to Medicare, please make sure you have a referral which includes both of your names. Your Fertility Specialist might give some preliminary advice about your treatment options during this appointment or they may need to send you for more testing.
2. Meeting your Nurse
Once your Fertility Specialist decides you should start IVF, they’ll create a treatment plan and then your Patient Relationship Co-ordinator will get in touch to plan the next steps. One of those steps will be a meeting with your Fertility Nurse. At this appointment, your Nurse will explain the IVF process, outline a likely timeline and show you how to self-administer the fertility medications. Your nurse can answer any questions you have. If you have a partner, we recommend you both come along to this appointment.
3. Let's do this!
Depending on the type of cycle you are having, it’s likely that your first job will be a blood test to check that your body is ready to start treatment that month. For the next week or so, you will administer fertility medication each day. It’s likely to be a form of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). FSH is administered through a diabetic-style pen and it stimulates your ovaries to produce more eggs than would be produced in a normal, unmedicated cycle. After this first week, you’ll be likely to have two injections a day for another three or four days. The second injection is designed to block ovulation and stop the eggs being released early.
4. Treatment monitoring
While you’re taking the fertility medication, we’ll ask you to come into the clinic for blood tests to measure your hormone levels and ultrasounds to measure the number and size of the follicles growing on your ovaries. This is the famed Morning Clinic you might have heard about. We run Morning Clinic early in the morning – between 7:00am and 9:00am - so you can fit in your blood tests and ultrasounds before work. There’s coffee and fruit and yoghurt. The results of this monitoring are important as they guide us as to the best time for your egg collection.
5. Trigger injection
Once your ultrasounds and blood tests show that your follicles have reached the best size, we schedule your egg collection. You’ll have a trigger injection of hCG (human chorionic gonatrophin) in the evening, and then we collect the eggs in a day surgery procedure approximately 36 hours later.
6. Egg collection (OPU)
It’s the big day! We hope you manage to get some sleep the night before. Timing is everything in IVF so you’ll need to come into our day surgery a day and a half after your trigger injection (don’t worry, your Nurse will give you an exact time so you can set some alarms). We collect the eggs just before ovulation would have occurred. It’s a day surgery procedure which is usually done with a local anaesthetic and light sedation. However, you can have a general anaesthetic if you prefer. We locate the follicles in the ovaries using ultrasound guidance and collect the fluid containing the egg from the follicle using a small needle. The procedure takes about 10-20 minutes and you will need some time to recover before going home. While it’s a relatively short visit, we recommend you take the day off work. If you have a male partner, they will be required to give a sperm sample on the same day. There are private collection rooms at the clinic.
Your eggs are taken straight to the laboratory by the Embryologist who assisted during your procedure. In the lab your eggs are placed in Genea’s culture medium ahead of fertilisation with sperm in approximately three hours. Your Embryologist will give you a call the next morning to tell you how many of your eggs successfully fertilised.
8. Embryo development
The fertilised eggs (embryos) are placed in Genea’s exclusive Geri™ incubation system
and monitored for several days. With Geri™ we are closer than ever before to mimicking the undisturbed natural environment of a woman’s body – where a human embryo would normally be. Our Geri™ incubation system has seen a 24% increase in the number of pregnancies when compared to the traditional incubator and culture medium system*
. Geri™, Genea’s benchtop incubator with individually controlled incubation chambers for each patient and time lapse camera allows scientists to continuously monitor your embryos and means they remain safe and sound in the incubator. You can also watch your embryos develop during this time via our Grow By Genea® app
9. Embryo transfer
Embryo transfer is a simple day surgery procedure and usually takes place five days after the egg collection. Your Fertility Specialist will transfer one of your embryos into the uterus using a very fine catheter passed through the cervix. The procedure is very similar to a pap smear and you can usually go to work afterwards.
10. Embryo freezing
If there are additional embryos, they can be frozen and stored for later use. At Genea, we use the world’s first automated vitrification instrument – Gavi™ – to freeze embryos. Traditionally done by hand by scientists, vitrification is a process that requires a high degree of precision and is vulnerable to human and environmental variances. Gavi™ automates and standardises key stages of the process and ensures embryos are consistently snap frozen, then stores them in a personalised Gavi™ pod until they are needed.
11. Pregnancy test
Eleven days after embryo transfer your Nurse will organise for you to have a pregnancy test. Your pregnancy test results are usually available by mid-afternoon - we will call you whatever the result.
* Foetal heart pregnancies. Study performed in Genea’s Canberra laboratory, 2015-2018.