Test tube baby / IVF: Procedure, price, success rate, and risks

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The Test Tube Baby Technique: What is test tube baby?

A test tube baby is a baby conceived outside the female body. In effect it is a baby conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF), where the egg is fertilized outside the body, in a laboratory dish, and then implanting it in a woman’s uterus.

First Test Tube baby in the world

The first ever successful birth of a child to be born by IVF treatment occurred in 1978. Louise Brown was the first child born as a result of natural cycle IVF where no stimulation was made. (1, 2)

First Test Tube baby in India

Dr. Subhash Mukhopadhyay created history when he became the first physician in India (and second in the world after British physicians Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards) to perform the In vitro fertilization resulting in a test tube baby “Durga” (Kanupriya Agarwal) on October 3, 1978.

Both Dr Mukhopadhyay and British scientists Robert G Edwards and Patrick Steptoe — creators of the world’s first test-tube baby — started work at the same time. The Indian baby was born on October 3, 1978, just 67 days after Marie Louise Brown was born (3).

India faces a high burden of infertility, with 22 to 33 million couples in the reproductive age suffering from lifetime infertility (4). For these couples, turning to advanced medical science seems to be the only option.

How common is IVF or the test tube baby technique?

By 2016, some 6.5 million babies had been born using in-vitro fertilization (IVF). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.6% of babies born in the United States each year are conceived through assisted reproductive technology (ART). (5)

In a normal pregnancy, a male sperm penetrates a woman’s egg and fertilizes it inside her body after ovulation, when a mature egg has been released from the ovaries.
The fertilized egg then attaches itself to the wall of the uterus, or womb, and begins developing into a baby. This is known as natural conception.

However, if natural or unassisted conception is not possible, fertility treatments are a viable option. IVF or test tube babies are one such option.

test tube baby fertilization
test tube baby fertilization

Test tube baby Process or IVF procedure (Step-By-Step)

Techniques may differ a little depending on the clinic, but IVF usually involves the following steps:

Test Tube baby procedure step by step

1. Suppressing the natural menstrual cycle

The woman receives a drug, usually in the form of a daily injection for about 2 weeks, to suppress their natural menstrual cycle.

2. Super ovulation

Fertility drugs containing the fertility hormone follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are given to the woman. FSH makes the ovaries produce more eggs than usual. Vaginal ultrasound scans can monitor the process in the ovaries.

3. Retrieving the eggs

The eggs are collected through a minor surgical procedure known as “follicular aspiration.” A very thin needle is inserted through the vagina and into an ovary. The needle is which is connected to a suction device. This sucks the eggs out. This process is repeated for each ovary.
In 2011, researchers suggested that collecting 15 eggs from the ovaries in one cycle gives the highest chance of a successful pregnancy.
Frozen or donated eggs may also be used.

4. Insemination and fertilization

The eggs that have been collected are placed together with male sperm and kept in an environmentally controlled chamber. After a few hours, the sperm should enter the egg.
Sometimes the sperm is directly injected into the egg. This is known as an intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Frozen sperm, retrieved through testicular biopsy, may be used. This is believed to be as effective as fresh sperm in achieving a successful pregnancy.
The fertilized egg divides and becomes an embryo.
At this point, some centers offer pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) which can screen an embryo for genetic disorders. This is somewhat controversial and is not always used.
One or two of the best embryos are selected for transfer.
The woman is then given progesterone or human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) to help the lining of the womb receive the embryo.

5. Embryo transfer

Sometimes, more than one embryo is placed in the womb. It is important that the doctor and the couple wishing to have a child discuss how many embryos should be transferred. Normally, a doctor will only transfer more than one embryo if no ideal embryos are available.
The transfer of the embryo is done using a thin tube, or catheter. It enters the womb through the vagina. When the embryo sticks to the lining of the womb, healthy embryo growth can begin.

Here is a 3D animation video that explains the entire IVF process in detail.

Is the test tube baby procedure painful?

There are several potential sources of pain during an IVF cycle.

1) Suppression of menstrual cycle & ovulation stimulation:

The first may be in preparation for the egg harvest. it is standard practice to take injectable medications to help develop the eggs. These are done with small needles and modern injection pen devices. Almost everyone dreads the first injection just out of fear about the unknown, but after the initial anxiety is over, most women report that the injection pain is nothing. The needles are tiny and go in & come out fast and easy. Women reported this as SOMEWHAT EASY & PAINLESS

2) Ovulation:

The next potential source of pain comes as the eggs develop, when the ovaries start to enlarge, causing bloating. This is a very real phenomenon, and there’s little that can be done about it other than to limit the number of eggs that we grow. Of course, this is a tradeoff, because if you only have 4-5 eggs, the pain and bloating are minimal, but your success rate is going to be decreased. Women reported this stage as SOMEWHAT DISCOMFORTING

3) Egg retrieval:

The third phase where there could be potential pain comes on the day of the egg retrieval itself. Knowing full well that the eggs are removed by piercing a thin long needle through the walls of the vagina into the ovaries, many women anticipate great pain on that day. But in reality, the pain is zero during the procedure, thanks to modern anesthesia. All fertility clinics have anesthesiologists on hand for every egg retrieval in order to keep the patients pain-free and breathing normally with normal heart rates and normal blood pressures throughout the case. Full anesthesia is painless compared to sedation. Under full anesthesia women reported this stage to be PAINLESS

4) Embryo transfer to uterus:

Either three days or five days after the eggs are retrieved, the embryos are transferred back into the uterus. The transfer has been reported by women to be ALMOST PAINLESS

5) Progesterone injections:

The final stage is the progesterone injections, which helps with establishing the pregnancy. Since it is an oil-based injection, the needle is larger and therefore more painful. The opinion on this is variable with some patients reporting a lot of pain while some find it quite tolerable. The ones who really find it unbearable have the option of taking their progesterone in other non-injection forms, such as with vaginal creme or vaginal suppositories. Women reported this stage to be PAINFUL.

Test Tube Baby cost in India

The cost of the entire procedure (for 1 time) ranges from Rs. 1,20,000 to Rs. 2,20,000, depending on individual treatments and the use of fertility drugs.

If a patient requires advanced technological assistance in IVF, the test tube baby price in India can go much higher. For instance, an ICSI treatment will require an additional Rs. 1,50,000 to Rs. 2,50,000. And an FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) procedure will cost patients about Rs. 1,20,000, apart from the IVF cost in India.

In other countries, the cost of having an IVF is considerably higher.

Best test tube baby centre in India

We have a list of the 10 Best IVF Centre in India with High Success Rates. Find all details with pricing to success rates.

Test tube baby images

FAQ:

1. What is the difference between ivf and test tube baby?

There is no difference, IVF treatment is referred to as test tube baby technique in layman terms.

2. What is the difference between surrogacy and test tube baby?

A test tube baby is fertilized outside of the female body and then implanted in the uterus of the mother. Sometimes due to various medical conditions, the embryo cannot be implemented in the uterus of the mother. In such a case the embryo can be implanted  in the uterus of another woman willing to carry the pregnancy to term. Such a woman is termed a surrogate. This method is called surrogacy. The baby born is not related to the surrogate genetically.

3. How many eggs should be retrieved for IVF?

A recent study published online in the journal Human Reproduction found that retrieving around 15 eggs from a woman’s ovaries in a single in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle gave a woman the best chance of a successful pregnancy and birth.

References:

  1. Is IVF painful?, fertilityfile.com
  2. India’s first test tube baby now a mother, thehindu.com
  3. IVF: What does it involve?, medicalnewstoday.com
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Amrita Singh

Amrita Singh is a graduate of Mumbai University. She has spent most of her life playing sports and cuddling cats and has annoyed parents & professors alike. Now a Vitsupp health writer, she enjoys writing about all things health.

Comments (1)
  1. Patrick Quinn says:

    I am so glad that I have come across this useful information. Test tube baby is really a good option who wish to have a child and facing a problem. Thanks a lot for sharing this information.

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