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Considering IVF? Here are a few things you must know first

Published on:19 April 2021, 14:47pm IST
Going for IVF is a life-changing decision, which is why it is important to know all about your chosen clinic and the role of an embryologist.
Dr Sujatha Ramakrishnan
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It is completely possible to get pregnant with your own eggs or donor eggs with low AMH

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infertility affects millions of people worldwide, who belong to the reproductive age. Moreover, it has an impact on their families and communities.  According to the WHO, between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals live with infertility, globally.  As per the data released by the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, infertility affects 10-14 percent of the Indian population, with a higher rate in the urban areas. There are various factors that cause infertility and it impacts both males and females, equally. 

While people talk about IVF and other ART procedures, they do not know who or what exactly an embryologist does. The role of an embryologist is as important as the fertility consultant. An embryologist is responsible for initiating fertilisation of eggs and sperm in the IVF lab, checking if the eggs are fertilized, taking care of the embryos for five days until they are either transferred to the uterus or frozen for future use. 

Here are a few facts about embryology

ART-related treatments serve as a boon to many couples across the country, helping them fulfil the dream of parenthood. But most couples are unaware of the fact that the embryologists are the actual scientists, and they are behind the successful conception of ART. As a doctor, they assess your eggs and sperm, and check what the problem is. So, the people who create these embryos in the embryology lab from gametes are embryologists. 

IVF or no IVF, you need to be sure of certain things before getting pregnant. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Know all about the embryology lab and the role of an embryologist:
Role of an embryologist

The embryology department plays a vital role in the IVF process. Moreover, an embryologist is also known as your child’s first baby sitter. Apart from creating embryos, the embryologist helps in egg freezing and embryo freezing. An embryology laboratory is an unfamiliar place for the ones who do not know about fertility treatments. Embryology involves the study of embryos and their development. It represents the development of the baby right from the initial stages till the eighth week of pregnancy.

Know about the procedures that take place in an embryology lab

The embryologist is responsible for maintaining the embryology lab conditions that are conducive to help embryos flourish. There is a strict regulation on the temperature, air quality, and humidity. For any couple who wants to freeze embryos, your embryologist will create the embryo and store it in the right manner, at an optimal temperature of -196 degrees celsius.  Any deviations in the temperature are dangerous. 

All eggs, sperm, and embryos will be retrieved, fertilized, cultured, analysed, monitored, frozen, and thawed in the laboratory. Moreover, egg retrievals will be carried out in the private rooms that are there next to the lab. Some procedures that take place in the lab are semen analysis, embryo monitoring, checking the quality of an embryo, genetic testing, and even oocyte (egg) analysis.

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Creating an embryo

The doctor extracts follicular fluid from a female’s ovary, from which eggs are separated by the embryologists, and combined with selected sperms from the semen sample shared by the male counterpart. 

To check if the eggs are fertilized

Once the sperms and eggs are combined, an embryologist will have to make sure the eggs are fertilized. That is the activation of oocytes by examining each egg under the microscope.

Proper monitoring is essential

Once the eggs are fertilized, the embryologist places them inside an incubator in order to control temperature and even the pH that tends to mimic the condition of one’s uterus. This enables the fertilized egg to become an embryo. Later, an embryologist can periodically check the embryos.

Starting a family can be a cakewalk, if you follow this checklist. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Selecting good-quality embryos

The embryologist selects those embryos that are of the best quality, and then puts them into the transfer catheter. These embryos are then handed over to the fertility specialist, who safely deposits them into one’s uterus. The embryologist will have to do the cryopreservation of those extra embryos during an IVF procedure. The embryos that are of good quality and are not being used will be frozen and used in the near future

Some factors that help in determining a successful ART procedure:

State-of-the art, technologically-advanced medical equipment, highly-skilled and trained embryologists along with a good laboratory can determine a successful ART procedure. The laboratory is of utmost importance, as it mimics a uterus-like environment outside of a woman’s womb.

Dr Sujatha Ramakrishnan Dr Sujatha Ramakrishnan

Dr Sujatha Ramakrishnan is head of embryology at Nova IVF Fertility. She is based out of Coimbatore, started off her career as an embryologist in the year 1995. She went on to do her doctorate and graduated with a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular biology from the University of Mysore in the year 1998.