3 March 2015

Ireland AM – Focus on Fertility: The Science behind IVF

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Sims IVF

If you are having difficulty getting pregnant and are considering fertility treatment, you will more than likely be wondering what your options are and how the process works.

The Ireland AM team visited Sims IVF, Clonskeagh to find out more about how fertility testing and treatment are carried out. (Click on the image to the right to watch)

TV3 met Graham Coull, Laboratory Director at Sims IVF and he conducts a tour of the laboratory - a part of an IVF clinic that patients don’t tend to see.  The lab adjoins the operating theatre.

So what happens during an IVF procedure?

In the operating theatre, a doctor removes a number of eggs.  Each of those eggs is surrounded by thousands of cells.  Those cells remain for IVF treatment but are removed for more intricate procedures, which are described here.

The sperm sample is then taken into the laboratory.  There are three ways of processing the sperm – IVF, ICSI and IMSI

  • IVF.  In the case of IVF, the egg and sperm are left to mix together.
  • ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) is where the sperm is injected directly into the egg and this is a useful technique when there is a low sperm count or some other egg or sperm related issue.
  • IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection) is where sperm is selected at a much higher magnification and inserted into the egg. 

Embryos are then placed in an incubator at 37 degrees and the environment mirrors the womb.

EEVA™ Time Lapse Technology

Sims IVF is the only IVF clinic in Ireland with access to the EEVA™ Early Embryo Viability Assessment test.  This testing process involves using time-lapse technology and imaging.  An image frame is taken by the system every five minutes and this goes on for 2.5 days.  That information is analysed by the system and this allows the test to select the most viable embryo. 

No matter what procedure is used, once the embryo is inserted into the womb, it is a ‘wait and see’ situation.

Egg Freezing

Eggs and Embryos are frozen and preserved in the laboratory in Cryobanks at 197 degrees.  There are a number of reasons why a woman might opt for egg freezing.   Oncology patients may freeze their eggs to preserve their option to have a baby after treatment.  Some people freeze their eggs so that they can have a child later in life.