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IVF Treatment

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where the female egg and male sperm are combined in a laboratory setting and incubated for a period of three to five days.

During the IVF process, a patient’s natural cycle is carefully manipulated through the use of fertility medications. These medications stimulate the ovaries to produce not one, but a number of mature eggs.

At the right time, the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries. At this time, the male supplies a sperm sample (or a stored, frozen sample is used). The eggs and sperm are placed in a Petri dish and fertilized. At the proper time, the embryos are transferred into the woman’s uterus in the hope of achieving a pregnancy.

Who needs IVF treatment?

While there are many other Assisted Reproductive Technologies treatment options available, IVF is often recommended for older patients or when IUI and medications have not been successful. In many cases, IVF can shorten the time to a successful outcome in many cases.

Our fertility specialist at Footsteps To Fertility Centre in Nairobi may recommend IVF treatment for the following conditions:

  • Advanced maternal age/Diminished ovarian reserve
  • Absent or blocked fallopian tubes
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Severe male factor infertility
  • Genetic/Chromosomal factors
  • Ovulatory dysfunction
  • Endometriosis

Phases of IVF and how it works

Our Fertility Specialist Dr. Ndegwa, will take the time to help you understand the IVF process. She will explain each step to you in detail along with the timeline for your treatment. A complete IVF cycle consists of a number of smaller steps or phases.

1. Pituitary Suppression

In a natural menstrual cycle, hormones from the pituitary gland, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), cause the growth of an egg within the fluid-filled space (follicle) in the ovary.

Although several follicles start to grow each month, in a natural cycle, only one will become mature enough to release its egg. Release of the egg is triggered by a sudden surge of LH at mid-cycle, which is two weeks before menstruation.

In contrast, during an IVF cycle it is desirable for several eggs to mature simultaneously. To prevent a premature LH surge from triggering early release of these eggs, a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist is used to temporarily turn off your own LH and FSH secretion. These medications are used at various stages of the IVF cycle.

2. Ovulation stimulation and monitoring

In a normal menstrual cycle, only one egg develops and matures each month. The egg matures inside a fluid-filled structure on the ovary called a follicle. That follicle can be seen on an ultrasound.

In a normal menstrual cycle, only one egg develops and matures each month. The egg matures inside a fluid-filled structure on the ovary called a follicle. That follicle can be seen on an ultrasound.

The patient takes medications that encourage the ovaries to develop multiple follicles, therefore, multiple eggs. Medications are either nurse or self-administered through an injection.

When the eggs have sufficiently matured, a Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) injection prepares them for removal. The timing of this shot is carefully planned, as it dictates when the next step-the retrieval, will take place.

The team at Footsteps to Fertility centre in Kenya carefully monitors the patient through frequent ultrasounds and blood tests.

3. Egg retrieval and semen collection

Once the eggs have matured they are removed from your ovaries using ultrasound-guided follicle aspiration. Our physicians then gently remove the mature eggs using a needle that is placed through the vaginal wall into each follicle in the ovaries.

After this procedure, the patient relaxes in our recovery room until she feels ready to return home.

After egg retrieval, you will be issued with medication/s (usually just progesterone) that will support the development of the endometrium (lining of the uterus) in preparation for embryo transfer.

Your partner will be asked to produce his semen sample on the day of your procedure. Understandably, some men have concerns about this part of the process. It may be possible to produce the sample at home and take it to the clinic – this can be discussed with our staff at the start of your cycle. It may be possible to freeze one of your partner’s semen samples as a backup.

Hashtag Magazine. Image source: 8 things to consider before egg freezing. Accessed via https://hashtagmagazine.in/8-things-to-consider-before-egg-freezing/


4. Egg fertilization and embryo development

The sperm sample is prepared by being washed and concentrated and all the dead sperm and debris is removed, then added to the eggs a few hours after retrieval.

The eggs are examined the next day for signs of fertilization. It is important to note that not every follicle will contain an egg, and not every egg will fertilize. Not every egg that fertilizes will go on to form a good-quality embryo.

The fertilized eggs are then kept in the incubator for an additional 48 hours. If the sperm quality is low (sperm count or motility), your specialist may suggest Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) as part of your treatment plan which involves the injection of a single sperm directly into a single mature egg.

5. Embryo transfer

Two to five days following egg retrieval, the fertilized eggs (embryos) are transferred to the uterus using a fine plastic tube (transfer catheter). The exact number transferred depends on the woman’s individual circumstances, age and embryo quality.

The embryo transfer steps are:

  • Embryo/s chosen for transfer is/are loaded into a catheter, which is passed through the cervix, into the uterus and gently released.
  • The catheter is then slowly removed and checked under the microscope to ensure that no embryos remain.
  • Some couples/individuals will have extra embryos that are suitable for freezing (vitrification).

The best-quality embryos – those most likely to result in pregnancy are usually transferred in the treatment cycle. Our goal is for you to deliver a single healthy baby.

To be selected for freezing, embryos must show minimal or no sign of fragmentation (cell breakdown) and no sign of abnormal development.

Possible side effects of embryo transfer include uterine/tubal infection, cervical bleeding, cramps, backache, miscarriage and tubal pregnancy.


This is the two-week period between embryo transfer and the pregnancy test. You will be encouraged to limit your activity for 24 hours after the transfer.

Your movement can be increased gradually over the next few days to non-strenuous, non-aerobic pursuits. Many women return to work the following day if their job is not strenuous.

The progesterone medication you start taking after egg retrieval can sometimes cause cramping, nausea, bloating and tiredness.

Vaginal spotting or bleeding may occur before you are due for your pregnancy test. This does not always mean that your treatment was unsuccessful. You should continue using any medications until a full period begins and/or the blood test results are known.

6. Follow up and pregnancy test

Your pregnancy blood test will be carried out about 14 days after embryo transfer. It is important to look after yourself in that time, which is often emotionally charged with expectation and anxiety.

We understand this can be difficult and encourage you to call us for support if you are finding it especially hard to deal with the stress of waiting.

IVF success rates and possible risks

IVF success factors that can help or hinder your getting pregnant include the age of the female partner, previous pregnancy, type of fertility problems and lifestyle habits.

There are some potential risks and side effects associated with IVF procedures including:

An exaggeration of usual menstrual cycle symptoms (e.g. bloating, breast tenderness, mood swings) because the ovaries have been stimulated to produce more than one follicle.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) develops. The ovaries become extremely enlarged and extra fluid accumulates in the abdomen.

If more than one embryo is transferred into the uterus, a multiple pregnancy may occur. Multiple pregnancies carry a higher risk of preterm delivery and other associated problems.

Fertility drugs have not been proven to increase the risk of breast, ovarian or uterine cancer. However, women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk of breast or ovarian cancer. Past or future use of the birth control pill will lower your risk of ovarian cancer. A yearly physical exam is important for the prevention and early detection of all diseases.

Hear From Our Founder Below

At Footsteps To Fertility Centre, IVF treatment can help patients who haven’t been successful with artificial insemination.

Feel free to contact us, chat with us or directly reserve an appointment below. We are committed to bringing the best of tomorrow’s IVF treatment, today.

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