What are the key steps involved in the IVF process?

Written by: Mr Michael Ellard
Edited by: Conor Lynch

Here, highly experienced consultant gynaecologist, Mr Michael Ellard, describes the key processes involved in a typical IVF process, whilst also outlining the potential associated risks with the fertility treatment.

How successful is IVF in helping couples conceive?

It really depends on the female’s age. I would normally counsel a woman under the age of 35, as the chances of having a baby after the age of 37 greatly decrease. Other factors include whether or not couples have undergone the IVF process before.


If someone is coming for IVF treatment having previously undergone the same or similar treatment, we would have to go through what happened in those to try to correct what went wrong to avoid repeating unsuccessful IVF treatment.


What are the key steps involved in the IVF process?

I start off the IVF process with reviewing the tests, checking whether IVF is suitable for the couple, and then talking to them about the pros and cons of IVF. Also, I run through the legal documents.


Then, I give them a week’s break to let them decide. When they start their cycle, I let them know that the process is divided into four parts, each with roughly a fortnight in length. After two weeks, they will have to start taking some medication. Then, fertility drugs will be taken for about 10 days, and then two days after that, they have an egg collection.


Five days after that, they would have an embryo transfer, and then 10 days after that, they would have a pregnancy test. If the test is positive, we do an ultrasound scan two to three weeks later.


Are there any potential risks or side effects associated with IVF treatment?

There is a multiple pregnancy rate, which is very rare though. Twin pregnancy rate is probably at around two per cent. Side effects of the drugs can occur, too. Certain patients with PCOS are at a high risk of complications such as hyperstimulation. We can change the treatment plan if we see that patients are starting to suffer from this condition.


The drugs are very well tolerated, coming in an injectable form. They cause minimal redness to the skin. The tablets that are used at the start of the cycle can slightly affect women, making them feel like they are having similar symptoms to those of a period.


What factors determine the cost of undergoing IVF?

There are lots of different types of IVF. The main cost impact is how much medication and how strong the medication needs to be to stimulate the ovaries.


Are there alternative or complementary treatments to consider alongside IVF for infertility?

I would always explore the least invasive treatment option. If there is a mild issue relating to the male, I would recommend anti-oxidant supplements to improve sperm quality. For people suffering from PCOS, I would recommend some highly effective vitamin supplements.


To book an appointment today with Mr Michael Ellard, simply visit his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Michael Ellard
Obstetrics & gynaecology

Mr Michael Ellard is a highly respected consultant gynaecologist based in Wirral and Chester. He specialises in IVF, fertility assessment and egg donation. He is also renowned for his expertise in menopause, miscarriage and polycystic ovaries (PCOS).

Mr Ellard qualified in medicine from Queen’s University of Belfast in 1992 and later relocated to England to pursue further training. During this period, he established a dedicated egg donation service at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, where he was based for some time to undergo specialist training in IVF. He completed his specialist training in obstetrics and gynaecology in the Mersey region and was appointed as a consultant at Wirral University Teaching Hospitals in 2005, where he would go on to establish the centre’s fertility service. Mr Ellard provides a number of highly specialised services, including a dedicated recurrent miscarriage clinic and a satellite IVF service which is run in partnership with Liverpool’s esteemed Hewitt Centre. Additionally, he holds the position of clinical service lead for women’s services at Wirral University Teaching Hospitals. Mr Ellard combines his extensive clinical experience and expertise with a holistic approach to delivering patient care in order to achieve the best outcomes. He sees private patients at Spire Murrayfield Hospital, Wirral and Care Fertility Chester.

Mr Ellard is a leading name in medical education and is training programme director for senior obstetrics and gynaecology trainees in the north west of England. He is a member of a number of esteemed societies, including the British Fertility Society and the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. He is also a fellow of the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and is actively involved in research. Mr Ellard is an editor for the British Journal of Hospital Medicine

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