In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

IVF (In vitro fertilisation) is an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedure used to treat a range of fertility problems. In IVF treatment, the process of fertilisation occurs outside the female body. A woman’s eggs are retrieved from her ovaries via the egg collection procedure, and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory petri dish. Once fertilised, the embryo is implanted into the woman’s womb.


How does IVF work?

Infographic – How does IVF work? © The Centre for Reproductive & Genetic Health

What is Abdominal Egg Collection?

In the IVF procedure, eggs are most commonly collected transvaginally. CRGH is able to offer transabdominal egg retrieval in addition to the more common transvaginal method as part of your IVF egg collection.

The abdominal route is used where the patient’s ovaries are difficult to access. It can also be performed where there are cultural or religious factors, which make the transvaginal route inappropriate or undesirable.

Transabdominal egg retrieval is performed under deep sedation. The doctor reaches the ovary using a needle through the abdomen, guided by continuous ultrasound.

Abdominal egg retrieval

Abdominal Egg Retrieval © CRGH

Your CRGH clinician will be pleased to discuss your options as part of your treatment plan.


How happens during IVF treatment?

How does IVF work? The IVF treatment process follows some key steps, these IVF stages are helpful in understanding the IVF procedure and timelines. Some patients decide to take time between each step before moving on to the next.

In IVF treatment, fertility drugs are given to the female partner to stimulate the production of multiple eggs which are contained in follicles on the ovaries. Progress is monitored using ultrasound and blood tests.

When the leading follicle reaches 17-22mm, the final preparation for the egg collection is done. This involves a hormone injection of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) or gonadotrophin releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) or dual trigger (hCG and GnRHa), which is given approximately 37 hours before the egg collection. The hCG and/or GnRHa injection stimulates the eggs to mature.



What is the IVF Egg Collection procedure?

The IVF egg collection procedure is usually carried out under sedation. An ultrasound guided vaginal probe is used to locate the follicles and aspirate (empty) its contents. The eggs are then placed in culture in our embryology laboratory. It is difficult to determine the number of eggs that will be collected until the procedure. In rare cases, no eggs are collected.

Eggs are placed into a petri dish with sperm, left to fertilise and develop under close observation by the embryology team.


Embryo transfer

Once the embryos have developed, the embryologist will select one to be transferred back to the womb during an embryo transfer procedure. It is a painless and quick procedure. The embryo(s) are loaded into a fine catheter and this is placed into the womb and the embryo(s) are expelled. After the embryo transfer, the patient can resume her usual activities.

Two weeks after the embryo transfer, a pregnancy test should be performed and CRGH should be informed of the result.


How long do embryos take to develop?

The day after the sperm is mixed with the egg, embryologists will look for signs of fertilisation. The following day they will check to see if the embryo has divided (cleaved). Embryos are then allowed to develop and monitored in the laboratory until day 5 or 6. By day 5 or 6, approximately 40-50% of the embryos should reach the blastocyst stage. At CRGH, we carry out blastocyst embryo transfer. There is a risk that none of the embryos reach the blastocyst stage.

The embryologists monitor and grade the embryos very carefully. In the majority of cases, if the embryos have developed well we would recommend a single embryo to be transferred to reduce the risk of twins. If a blastocyst transfer is going to take place, we will only normally transfer one embryo in patients under 38 years.


What happens to embryos that are not transferred?

All good quality embryos that are not transferred will be frozen. CRGH has a very high pregnancy rate for frozen embryo transfers. This gives a very high chance of getting pregnant in a subsequent cycle without having to go through the whole in vitro fertilisation procedure again.


Contact us

If you would like to learn more about what happens during IVF treatment or book an appointment with one of our doctors you can:

  • Speak to the booking team on +44 (0)20 7837 2905  (Mon – Fri 8.30am – 6pm)
  • Email us on 
  • Visit our Appointments page, fill out the contact form and a member of the team will be in touch

IVF Packages With Access Fertility

IVF Packages With Access Fertility
CRGH is partnering with Access Fertility to offer a series of IVF programmes and packages. For more information please click below.

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