During the monthly cycle, women produce one egg. During the treatment period, medication is given to the patient that increases the production of eggs. The patient will have blood tests that will measure the hormone production. In addition, we monitor the IVF cycle using ultrasound every two to three days. The ultrasound is necessary to observe the progress and any possible necessary adjustment to the medication dosage. Our aim is the production of three follicles. That points to the maturity of the eggs and we can schedule the collection procedures. This whole process is coordinated and monitored by the medical personnel under the guidance of Dr. Anastasios Sykoutris who is the obstetrician gynecologist specialist in in vitro fertilization and infertility.
During the ultrasound, the doctor will measure the number of follicles. When there are at least three follicles in eighteen millimeters size the patient will take an injection of beta-hCG for egg maturation. Thirty-six hours after receiving the injection, the gynecologist with a special device will withdraw the follicular fluid that contains the eggs through the vagina. The procedure is done in the operating room under sterile conditions while the patient is under mild anesthesia and under the care of an anesthesiologist. An embryologist will examine the fluid in order to find the eggs using a special microscope. More detailed information on the process of egg collection will be provided by the anesthesiologist on the day before the scheduled procedure and the patient will also be provided with an informative brochure. The whole procedure is painless for the patient and it takes about fifteen minutes to complete.
After the process of fertilization, the eggs are placed in a special cultivating solution. The eggs then will be fertilized using the partner’s sperm after it has undergone through a special process in the laboratory. Because of the complexity of this process, it is under the constant supervision of medical and laboratory staff. After 24 hours, the eggs are checked for impregnation and the physician as well as the patients are immediately informed. The process of fertilization is made with the most modern means available worldwide in the embryology laboratories. Continuous inspections are made and all procedures are governed by Greek law applicable to IVF centers and the possibility of error is minimal.
Dr Anastasios Sykoutris specializes in the process of embryo transfer. He studied and started practicing his specialty in this field at the University of Bristol, England. After years of experience in this process both theoretical and practical, he relocated and has been practicing in Greece.
The process of embryo transfer takes place two to three days after egg collection. It make take as long as five days but that is more rare. The embryos are placed back in the vaginal cavity through a special catheter that passes through the cervix. The number of embryos to be transferred depend on the woman's age and is based on the law issued on January 1st, 2005. If there are large numbers of embryos that were produced, the remaining ones can be frozen and used in a future trial.
Embryo transfer is a painless procedure for the patient and is under continuous ultrasound coverage. During the ultrasound, it is recommended that the patient has a full bladder for clearer images. The transfer process takes about ten minutes in the surgery room.
Twelve days after the embryo transfer process the patient takes a pregnancy test. A blood test is recommended since it is more accurate. If the pregnancy test is positive, the first ultrasound is scheduled for two weeks later where we see the bag or bags with the fetus in the womb. The pregnancy test should not be taken less than twelve days after insemination. If the test is negative the medication given to the patient will be discontinued. It is very important for couple to meet with their doctor as soon as possible to investigate the causes of failure and plan the next course of therapy according to the new findings. It is important that patients understand that although a failure is a negative fact, on the other side it enables us to design the next treatment more accurately and to see how the body of the patient responded to the treatment in prior trials. Of course, throughout the IVF cycle there is the opportunity of receiving psychological support by a panel of psychologists.