Friday, December 26, 2014

IVF, ICSI and IUI's: What's the Difference?!

Nothing like a little reproductive lesson the day after Christmas, right?!

The reason for this little lesson, is due to the fact, that I have had SO many people asking about IVF, that I thought I would share what I know, because honestly, I find it incredibly fascinating what can be done in regards to having children, and how they are making what would be impossible for us, possible.

And what better time to talk about this gift, than the day after Christmas, because I believe that children are one of the greatest gifts we can ever receive!

IUI: I'll start with the 'least' extreme out of the three treatments.  However, if you ever chat with someone who has gone through IUI, you will quickly learn that in terms of what you put your body through is almost always identical to those who go through IVF or ICSI.  IUI stands for 'Intrauterine Insemination'.  This means that they are injecting sperm inside a woman's uterus to facilitate fertilization.  This procedure is usually used when there is a low sperm count or the sperm aren't as mobil.  However, often, to increase their chances and take full advantage of this procedure, many women still take hormone injections prior to the procedure to assist with the fertilization.

IVF: This is the most 'famous' of the procedures.  IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization.  What this means, is that, unlike IUI, both the sperm and the egg are taken from the man and the woman.  Whereas with IUI, the eggs are never extracted.  IVF is a little more controlled in that sense.  So, typically sperm is extracted from the man (or a sperm donor can be used ), and then, once a woman goes through about one and half to two weeks of hormone injections and her various hormones are tested, she will have a procedure where her eggs will be extracted.  Then, the eggs and sperm are placed in a laboratory and go through a process called insemination.  And, as long as all goes well, the sperm and eggs combine to make embryos.  Then, about five days after the egg extraction, and the embryos are made, they will then be implanted inside the woman.

ICSI: This is the most controlled and intensive procedure.  But again, nothing changes for the people who are involved, it all has to do with what happens in the lab, and what the sperm and eggs must go through in that time.  So, instead of just leaving the sperm and egg to come together 'on their own', in the lab, one egg, and one sperm are selected (they actually have doctors who specialize in identifying the eggs and sperm to be used!), and once they are selected, then, the sperm is injected into the egg, and the embryo is created.  Then, five days later it's implanted.

I realize that I am VERY MUCH simplifying this process.  However, in a nutshell, that is the difference between the three procedures.  Each one is trying in it's own way on the people involved, because, after all, despite the differences, we all hope for the same result, a beautiful baby!  And that can be a nerve wracking process.  My husband and I were very fortunate in the sense that we found out almost immediately what was wrong.  Many, many people are not that lucky.  Often times, 'unexplained infertility' is a diagnosis that people have to be content with, and they also decide to go the IVF route.

Again, I cannot emphasize how awesome science really is, and how wonderful this opportunity is!  I know that it seems daunting, intimidating, and to some, even controversial, but I have always believed that the more you KNOW about what it is you're going to do, the more at peace and exciting the opportunity actually appears to be!

If you have someone in your life that is going through infertility, or you yourself are experiencing it, please, feel free to e-mail me, or comment below.  I write because it truly helps me, but also, it helps others find their voice in what is often a very trying time.


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