Understanding IVF treatment

Written by: Mrs Arianna D´Angelo
Edited by: Sarah Sherlock

If a woman or a couple are having troubles conceiving, they may turn to undergoing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment. It is commonly known, but what else should we know about this treatment option? To help us understand more and answer important questions, expert consultant in assisted reproductive medicine Mrs Arianna D’Angelo explains all about IVF in this article.


in vitro fertilisation


What are the five steps of IVF?

The five steps of IVF are:


  1. Ovarian stimulation for growing follicles containing eggs involving different types of subcutaneous injections, one type to stimulate the follicular growth and one type to stop the eggs from being released prematurely.
  2. Transvaginal ultrasound-guided egg collection which involves passing a very fine needle through the vagina into the ovaries, usually under conscious sedation and more rarely under general anaesthetic.
  3. In vitro fertilisation of the eggs with sperm, or in cases of abnormal sperm, this can be replaced by the intracytoplasm sperm injection (ICSI).
  4. Transfer of the embryo inside the womb, ideally one embryo at a time should be transferred to avoid multiple pregnancy, which are dangerous for mum and babies.
  5. Attaching of the embryo to the lining of the womb, so called implantation.



Who is a good candidate for IVF and why?

Good candidates are generally young women with good egg reserve and a healthy womb. Women with tubal infertility have a better prognosis, as well as women who have conceived previously.



How long does IVF take from start to finish?

Depending on the stimulation, protocol can range between four and six weeks up until the stage of embryo transfer, then there will be two additional weeks to wait for the pregnancy test.



What are the disadvantages of IVF?

The main disadvantages of IVF include:


  • Risk of poor response to the drugs, meaning a low egg production or premature release of the eggs.
  • Overreaction to drugs, also known as ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS), which very rarely could be life-threatening.
  • Injuries or infection during the eggs collection surgery
  • Failed fertilisation or arrest of the embryo during culture
  • Multiple pregnancy
  • Ectopic pregnancy (outside the womb)
  • Miscarriage



What advice would you give to women or couples undergoing IVF?

The best advice I’d give is to relax, be healthy, stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, take supplements, and have the COVID-19 vaccination. I’d also advise having peer-to-peer support through social media, in addition to alternative remedies, such as acupuncture or reflexology which might help.



If you are considering having IVF treatment or would like more information, you can go to Mrs D’Angelo’s Top Doctors profile and schedule a consultation.

By Mrs Arianna D´Angelo
Obstetrics & gynaecology

Mrs Arianna D'Angelo is a vastly experienced consultant in assisted reproductive medicine currently based at the Oak Tree Clinic as well as Spire Hospital, both located in Cardiff. She specialises in gynaecology, assisted reproduction medicine, and early pregnancy ultrasound

Impressively, Mrs D'Angelo has, thus far, acquired more than 20 years of medical experience in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, particularly in the area of assisted reproduction. Her main research areas of interest include ultrasound, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, fertility preservation and cancer, recurrent implantation failure, markers of ovarian reserve and ovarian cancer screening

Mrs D'Angelo is actively involved with a large number of reproduction and fertility-related groups and societies, most notably her role as a member, reviewer, co-reviewer and translator of the Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility Group. She is also the past coordinator of the Special Interest Group (SIG) in Safety and Quality in ART (SQART) and the UK Clinical National Representative for the European Society of Human Reproduction & Embryology (ESHRE). She is also a member of the Ethics Commitee (ESHRE) and member of the steering committee of the Fertility Network UK (Wales) charity group. 

To add to her incredibly active professional life, Mrs D'Angelo has also undertaken the role of author and editor respectively, having published numerous international publications to date and a book on ultrasound in assisted contraception and early pregnancy. Not only that, but Dr D'Angelo is also an international conference speaker and a journal peer-reviewer in the field of reproductive medicine and ultrasound. 

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