In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process of fertilization where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro (“in glass”). This is done in special laboratory environment. To increase the chance of successful in vitro fertilization, a woman’s ovaries are stimulated in in order to collect more mature oocytes (10-15) than in natural cycle. The oocytes are collected during a short procedure (~ 15 minutes), which is called oocyte pick-up. Male partner gives semen sample in the clinic on the same day of the procedure.
In case of the classical IVF (in vitro fertilization) method, in the lab, the retrieved eggs are combined with sperm (from either the intended father or from a sperm donor.) The egg and sperm are put together in a petri dish, where a sperm cell will fertilize an egg cell. The dish is cultured in an incubator with body-like conditions. After 16-18 hours, the fertilization of the eggs is checked and correctly fertilized eggs are further cultured, so that the embryos can develop. Embryo development is monitored in the laboratory for 2-6 days.
ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) is a method of in vitro fertilization in which a single healthy sperm is selected under a microscope and inserted directly into the cytoplasm of an oocyte using a micropipette. The ICSI method is usually used in cases of male infertility or if the previous IVF method has not given the desired result. The ICSI method is also used, if a woman’s oocytes have been frozen before (see cryopreservation). Further development and monitoring of embryos is performed similarly to the IVF method.