Search this site:

IVF, the birth of in vitro fertilisation

With the IVF technique, eggs and sperm are simply mixed in the laboratory. Fertilisation takes place 'naturally'.

The IVF Revolution

In 1978, a baby, and a new field of medicine was born!!
The first baby conceived with IVF or in vitro fertilization (outside of the body or ‘in glass’) was born. 
IVF is very simple in that sperm and eggs are simply mixed and maintained in culture (in a specialized laboratory).
Fertilisation occurs ‘naturally’. The next morning (15-20 hours after insemination), fertilisation can be seen through the presence of two clear pronuclei. The fertilised eggs are then cultured to allow selection of the best embryos for replacement into the patients’ uterus.
Despite the ease of performing this technique, the low skillset required, minimal requirement of equipment apparent high success rates of the technique, the IVF procedure in recent years has lost ground to it’s rival, ICSI. This is because of a couple of inherent deficiencies of the technique per se:

1) IVF can only be performed in a very limited group of couples i.e. those where the male has a reasonable number of sperm in his semen (i.e. >15,000,000/ml). This means many patients cannot be treated with the technique.
2) There is a real possibility of ‘fertilisation failure’ i.e. no eggs fertilized with IVF even when the prospect was good. Although this happens in about 1% of cases, it never happens with ICSI, therefore many IVF centres have become ‘all ICSI’ centres. In fact, more recently National Statistics have adopted to present their annual reports without differentiating for technique.


GIFT (Gamete IntraFallopian Transfer) is a variation on IVF. With GIFT, eggs and sperm are returned to the Fallopian tubes without in vitro insemination. The idea is to replace the gametes into the most natural environment to maximise embryo growth and development.


Which types of infertility can be treated with IVF?


Couples in which the male partner is considered normospermic or has mild subfertility are commonly treated with in vitro fertilisation. In cases where the male subfertility is more severe, ICSI, or intracytoplasmic sperm injection, is preferred.


What is the success rate based on?


In a good standard laboratory, the success rate (that is pregnancy rate) is dependent mainly on maternal age.  In general, patients where the woman is below 30 years can expect a success rate in the range 55-60%.  Women of between 30 and 37 years can hope for pregnancy in 40-50% of attempts and women over 37 years old can expect a 15% chance of achieving pregnancy.  Of course, other factors (such as the womans hormonal status) have an effect, but the major influencing factor is maternal age.


Search for an IVF specialist in your area:

Searchable values



Spoken Language



Area of spec.

Primary Secondary

Price £


2 Responses to IVF, the birth of in vitro fertilisation

  1. Sophia C says:

    why must you take birth control at the beginning of in vitro fertilization? i thought bc was to avoid pregnancy ? whats the purpose?

  2. Yoshi says:

    My husband and I just found out that we are unable to concieve naturally, due to problem at my husbands end.

    We are going to have be referred to IVF – please can you tell me what the IVF procedure involves? I heard that I will have to inject myself!

    Also, what is the success rate of IVF at the moment?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>