IVF, the Process and Treatment in Thailand

IVF, the Process and Treatment in Thailand

It is perhaps a pre-conceived conception that women, at some point in their maturity, will have children. Many believe that this urge is biological. It is a fact that at the point of conception biological changes begin within a women’s body, estrogen and progesterone immediately kick in at this point. Further changes start with the neurohormone oxytocin which fires up at the time of birthing.

These are biological facts, but there are no such facts to support the idea that women have a biological desire to conceive. The desire to conceive seems to be entirely physiological. It is more likely due to a deep seated pronatalist notion going back hundreds of years when there were greater life pressures, necessitating the act to breed and maintain the numbers within a tribe or clan. This is now often referred to as the “Fulfillment Assumption”.

But, whatever the root of the desire may be, the desire is real. For millennia, sadly, there have always been those that have been unable to conceive and have gone through life “Unfulfilled”. Now, in our modern world, science gives hope to couples that experience problems conceiving. The change came with In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

IVF, the Beginning 

A ground breaking event occurred in 1977 with the birth of Louise Brown on the 25th July at Oldham General Hospital. She became known as the world’s first “Test Tube” baby. Louise was conceived by the fertilization of the egg in a laboratory culture dish, from whence we get the term “In Vitro”, taken from the Latin, “In Glass”.

That single moment in history was pioneered by professors Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. As a result of their ground breaking, scientific endeavors, IVF births have proliferated across the world. In England alone, there are now around 20,000 IVF babies born every year, in 2009 this represented nearly two per cent of all the babies born in the UK. This has given fulfillment to many women who would otherwise be destined to remain childless. 

Who Can Benefit from IVF?

There are many reasons why a couple may experience problems with conceiving. Very likely, fertility drugs, such as clomiphene, are the first option in trying to successfully conceive, and then perhaps Intrauterine Insemination. This artificial method of insemination is designed to increase the number of sperm that reaches the fallopian tubes, thus increasing the chances of conception. 

An individual may have damaged or blocked fallopian tubes, in which case IVF treatment may be identified as the best option to facilitate successful fertilization. The male partner may be identified as having a low sperm count, in which case IVF treatment is a good option. IVF is also an option for couples whose conception problems cannot be definitively diagnosed.

There is now trend, particularly in the Western world, for single women to choose to have IVF to facilitate their desire to have a baby without a designated father. It may be a contentious issue to conceive and raise a child without a male partner, but there are a growing number of women opting to take this route as part of their belief in their right to live an entirely independent life.

What are the Costs

Although in the UK women do have a limited amount of access to IVF treatment through their National Health Service, the vast majority of IVF births are funded privately. In the UK a single cycle of IVF is likely to be around 5,000 Pounds, in America it is about 12,000 Dollars, there are also additional costs for any medication that may be required. 

The chances of successful conception from the first cycle have increased over the years. On average, women under 30 have a 44% chance of having a live birth following their first cycle. After the age of 30 the success rates start to decline. With these facts in mind, it is easy to see how undertaking IVF treatment can quickly become financially prohibitive.

With the excessive pricing common in the West, more and more women seek alternatives, alternatives which are less financially burdensome whilst also being of the highest standard. In seeking an alternative, the first step women, and couples, take is research. It then quickly becomes apparent that the best option is the state of the art medical facilities that are to be found in Thailand. 

Thailand a Realistic Option

Success rates for IVF treatment in Thailand is as good as anywhere else in the world. Clinics are modern and bedecked with the most up to date equipment. The doctors and staff are highly trained, many of them in America and the UK. English is widely spoken in all of the leading establishments, and many offer translators free of charge. As for cost, you can expect a saving of between 30 and 50%. In addition, there is the appealing thought of undertaking your treatment whilst enjoying a holiday in a tropical paradise. 

Once realizing that IVF treatment in Thailand is the best option, there are a few things to bear in mind before making that first appointment. Thailand has legal parameters within which the IVF process is conducted. Commercial egg or sperm donors are not permitted, nor is commercial surrogacy. IVF for single mothers, or fathers, is illegal, as is gender selection. No reputable clinic will undertake any of these ideals. 

Having weighed up the costs and feasibility, the next thing to do is decide upon the clinic in which to trust your treatment. Researching credible clinics is relatively straight forward. It is wise to research the credentials of the doctors that administer the IVF treatment at individual clinics. Review the overall medical reputation of the hospitals that have IVF clinics. Read reviews from people that have used each establishment and familiarize yourself with geographical locations and transport links. 

All the leading, reputable establishments post a plethora of detailed information about their treatments, procedures and staff credentials. Any hospital or clinic that seems a little vague, or lacks important information on their staff, and or, procedures, are perhaps best avoided. Just as anywhere else in the world, in Thailand, there are those that are less than reputable. Be wise and seek out the best.

What is the Process?

In your home country it is very likely that, as a couple, you will have undergone a fertility workup. Typically, this will include the following:

For men: Complete blood count (CBC). Blood grouping, and HB typing. This is Hemoglobin electrophoresis which measures different types of a protein called hemoglobin in the red blood cells. In addition, there will also be a semen analysis.

For women: A general physical examination which will include BMI (body mass index). A full pelvic examination including a pap smear of the cervix. You will have had a transvaginal ultrasound over a 12 day menstrual cycle. There will have been a blood test on day 2 of your period for FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), LH (luteinizing hormone), prolactin, estradiol and AMH (anti-Mullerian Hormone). Blood will also be tested for HB typing, blood group, rubella, HIV and thyroid. 

If you have already undertaken your fertility workup, then it is advisable to send this information to your doctor prior to traveling to Thailand. This will aid the doctor in formulating your treatment plan, reduce the time you will need to spend at your chosen clinic, and save you money.  Of course, if you have not had the fertility workup done in your home country then it can be done by your chosen clinic in Thailand. 

At your chosen clinic the fertility treatment will then begin with a transvaginal ultrasound (TVS). This will ascertain your reproductive health prior having hormonal injections. The dosage and duration of the hormone treatment is gauged to the requirements of each particular patient.  

This will be followed up with and additional TVS, this will check the size of the follicles, and blood tests will ascertain your hormone levels. Ovum and sperm pick up can then be done. The process of egg collection will be undertaken in a fully equipped operating room, very likely you will be put under deep sedation. You will then remain in the recovery room for a few hours under observation.

The father’s sperm will be collected onsite in a designated semen collection room which will be close to the embryo laboratory. It is vital that the sperm does not get too cold, or too hot, or they will stop swimming. Having the sperm collection close to the embryo laboratory enables more precise temperature control.

Preimplantation Genetics Diagnosis (PGD) will then be undertaken. This is to screen the embryo of any genetic defects that may be passed on from the parents. This is followed by endometrial receptivity analysis (ERA), this will determine if your endometrium is ready for embryo implantation. If receptive, the implantation can take place with the maximum chances of successful conception. 

Then, the embryo transfer can take place. Once again, this procedure will be performed in an operating room. After the process, you can expect to remain in the operating room and be discharged within an hour of completion of the procedure. Two weeks later you will undergo a standard pregnancy test, you will then know whether or not you are carrying a baby. 

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