We recommend the following steps in order to start the process to parenthood:
We can also offer expert advice on preserving your fertility through egg freezing if you’re not certain the time is right to start treatment just yet.
With regards to the process of the actual treatment, one can expect the following:
This process involves the donor sperm being artificially inserted into the uterus. You will undergo the insemination of the prepared donor sperm sample at our doctor’s rooms. The AI procedure is similar to a routine gynaecological examination for a Pap smear.
The pregnancy test is normally performed 12 days after the AI procedure. A blood beta-hCG test is the most accurate. A home pregnancy test is less accurate and can be done 15 days after the AI. We will contact you as soon as we receive your test result.
For all ‘in vitro’ procedures, the patient’s process is the same. The differences between the procedures only occur within the laboratory.
Female patients will be stimulated in order to produce a number of eggs for aspiration around day 12 – 14 of your stimulation cycle. 36 hours prior to your procedure, a hormone trigger is administered in order for us to control exactly when to retrieve the eggs (before you ovulate).
On the day
You will be admitted into the day ward at Wijnland Fertility. The aspiration procedure is very short and makes use of anaesthesia, which means that you need to be prepared prior to the day of the procedure (no eating after midnight). The aspiration procedure is generally so short that the process of the anaesthetist putting you to sleep takes longer than the actual egg retrieval!
Once your procedure is finished, you will be wheeled out of the theatre and be placed back into your warm recovery bed where you will be woken up with some tea or coffee and a scone. Thereafter, an embryologist will let you know how many eggs were retrieved. This information is only given to you once you have fully woken up from your drowsy sleep and are relaxed and ready to receive the much-awaited information.
Following the egg retrieval
The embryo transfer procedure will be done on Day 5 (in our standard cost option Day 3), depending mainly on how many good-quality embryos have developed.
Our clinic’s protocol is to transfer only one embryo per cycle. In exceptional cases, two embryos may be transferred at the discretion of the treating doctor and attending embryologist. This will depend largely on the quality of the embryos.
If any surplus high-quality blastocysts remain in culture after the transfer, they can either be frozen and stored for future use, donated to another couple or single woman for IVF, or discarded.
Please talk to the doctor and/or embryologist about the freezing, discarding or donation of surplus embryos before starting fertility treatment to ensure you have enough time to think about these options and make a well-informed decision. The nursing sister or embryologist will call you to inform you when the transfer procedure is going to take place.
You will be given information about preparing for the transfer procedure. This will also include having a full bladder. You will be conscious, and an attending friend/family member can be with you in the procedure room.
Your uterus will be visualised by doing a trans-abdominal scan and the doctor will use a speculum to visualise the cervix. The embryos will be drawn into a thin catheter and will be placed into the uterus. The embryos will be released slowly into the uterus – you will be able to see this happening on the ultrasound screen!
You may lie down and rest for 20 to 40 minutes after the transfer. If you have any surplus embryos in the laboratory, the embryologist will talk to you about your decision and/or instructions on the handling of your surplus embryos. The embryologist will give you the applicable consent forms to be signed by you.
You will also receive forms showing a summary of the number of eggs retrieved, the number fertilised, how many embryos were transferred, how many were left in culture and when pregnancy tests can be done. You can then go home and continue with your daily activities!
We advise you to take it easy on the day of the transfer, but you may drive a car if needed. The embryologist will phone you a few days after the transfer to give you feedback on the further development and/or freezing of your surplus embryos, where applicable.
Many of the single women who come to us for IVF take this route because they’re concerned their age is starting to affect their chances of having a baby. In some cases, this means that standard AI or single mum IVF might not be the most appropriate option.
If you have a family history of infertility, or suffer from a condition such as endometriosis or PCOS, we might start to begin with a more advanced treatment option right away. Your embryologist and our psychological support team will talk you through the best options for your unique circumstances.
Alternative fertility treatment options for single moms
ICSI – Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm injection
ICSI is a highly specialised technique in which one ‘hero’ sperm is carefully selected by one of our expert embryologists, and injected directly into one of your retrieved egg cells with a micro-needle.
This greatly increases the chances of a successful fertilisation. Intra Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection can also be performed using a donor ova if required.
Fertility preservation / Egg freezing
Egg freezing is an increasingly popular and common fertility procedure for single women of all ages, whether they want to preserve their chances of having a baby later while they pursue their careers, or if they just don’t feel they’ve found the right partner yet.
Freezing some of her eggs, through a process called oocyte cryopreservation, allows women the chance to get on with their lives now, while still leaving the option open to become a single mum when the time is right for them.
For the best chances of success, women should be under the age of 35 when taking this route.