In vitro fertilization (IVF)

In vitro fertilization is the most commonly used Assisted Reproductive Technique which involves fertilising egg and sperm in a controlled laboratory environment. IVF may help those with infertility issues, such as those with pelvic or tubal damage or male infertility. After the fertilization happens, it forms a zygote which would be placed in an embryo culture for 2-6 days. It is then carefully transferred into the uterus using a catheter aiming for implantation.


There are several indications for IVF, specifically to handle infertility issues. However, noted that not all infertility issues can be solved by IVF, such as structural abnormalities in the uterine, advanced maternal age and diminished ovarian reserve. The indications are stated below.

  • Fallopian tube blockage or damage. When there is a damaged or blocked Fallopian tube, the eggs from the ovaries cannot travel to the uterus. This will prevent fertilization from occurring.
  • Endometriosis. This is a condition where uterine tissues grow outside of their location. When this happens, it may lead to scarring and inflammation, posing a challenge for implantation.
  • Ovulation disorders. Anovulation (absence of ovulation) is one of the factors of subfertility. Some causes of anovulation include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and premature ovarian failure (POF).
  • Male infertility. Male infertility can be caused by various factors, including azoospermia (absence of sperm), oligozoospermia (low sperm count), teratozoospermia (morphological defect) and hypospermia (low semen volume).

IVF is a highly successful infertility treatment. The woman’s age and her cause of infertility will determine the success rate of IVF. Anyway, IVF still stands a chance of 30-40% of success rate.

IVF Process

Ovulation induction: Medications such as Clomiphene citrate or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) are administered to stimulate a woman’s ovaries aiming to produce multiple ova.

Egg retrieval: A thin needle will then be inserted through the vagina into the ovaries to retrieve the ovum. The procedure would be guided by a transvaginal ultrasound known as transvaginal oocyte retrieval (TVOR).

Fertilization: The eggs are mixed with the sperm in a laboratory dish. The sperm can be from the woman’s partner or from a donor.

Embryo culture: The fertilized eggs are monitored and cultured in a laboratory for 2-6 days. During this time, the embryos will divide and grow.

Embryo transfer: One or two embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus using a catheter. The catheter is inserted through the vagina and into the uterus.

The woman will be given a pregnancy test 10-14 days after the embryo transfer.

IVF can be an emotionally and physically demanding process. Thus, it is always crucial to discuss your decision with your doctor and ensure you understand the pros and cons of IVF before you proceed with the procedure. 

Benefits of IVF

  • Increased chance of pregnancy: IVF can help couples with fertility issues to conceive a child.
  • Genetic screening: IVF allows for the screening of embryos for genetic conditions before implantation, reducing the risk of passing on genetic disorders to the child.
  • Preservation of fertility: IVF can be used to freeze and store embryos for future use, allowing individuals to preserve their fertility for later in life.
  • Treatment for specific fertility issues: IVF can be used to address specific fertility issues such as blocked fallopian tubes, male infertility, or advanced maternal age.

Possible Risks

One potential complication is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). There are also risks associated with pregnancies and ectopic pregnancies when undeargoing IVF treatments.

Recovery and Outlook

Following an IVF procedure, the recovery period is generally swift, with many individuals resuming normal activities within a day. However, emotional recovery can vary, and support networks play a crucial role. The outlook for successful pregnancies post-IVF is encouraging, with many factors influencing the chances of conception. Factors such as age, overall health, and the specific reasons for infertility can impact outcomes. Regular follow-up appointments and communication with healthcare providers contribute to a positive outlook as they allow for monitoring and adjustments to the treatment plan as needed.

When to Call the Doctor

Knowing when to contact healthcare providers is essential during the IVF journey. Any unusual symptoms, side effects, or concerns should prompt communication with the fertility clinic. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to discuss any emotional or psychological challenges they may be facing. Open and timely communication ensures that any issues are addressed promptly, contributing to a smoother and more supportive IVF experience.

Results and Chances of Success

IVF success rates vary based on several factors, including the woman’s age, the cause of infertility, and the number of embryos transferred. Generally, younger individuals tend to have higher success rates. Understanding these success rates provides realistic expectations and allows individuals to make informed decisions about their treatment journey. It’s important to note that success rates can be influenced by individual health and circumstances, and consulting with fertility specialists can provide personalized insights.

Charitable Care & Financial Assistance

IVF can be financially challenging, and charitable care and financial assistance programs aim to alleviate some of these burdens. These programs may offer reduced-cost treatments, grants, or other forms of support to eligible individuals or couples. Exploring these options can provide valuable assistance in making IVF more accessible to a broader range of individuals and families, ensuring that financial constraints do not become a barrier to pursuing fertility treatments.

General Support for IVF

Fertility Clinics and Hospitals:

Inquire directly with fertility clinics or hospitals offering IVF services. Some institutions may have in-house programs or partnerships with organizations providing financial assistance.

Example of clinics in Selangor:

  • TMC Fertility and Women’s Specialist Centre
  • Sophea Fertility Centre
  • Metro IVF
  • Sunway Fertility Centre
  • KPJ Damansara Fertility Centre

Nonprofit Organizations:

Look for nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting individuals or couples facing infertility. These organizations may offer financial aid, grants, or other forms of assistance.

Government Programs:

Investigate if there are any government-sponsored programs or initiatives supporting fertility treatments, including IVF. Check with relevant health departments or agencies.

Health Insurance Coverage:

Review health insurance policies to determine if any coverage for fertility treatments, including IVF, is available. Some policies may offer partial coverage or specific benefits.

Corporate or Employer Benefits:

Check with employers or corporate human resources departments to inquire about any benefits or assistance programs related to fertility treatments.

Local Charities and Foundations:

Explore local charities or foundations that focus on healthcare or family planning. Some may provide financial aid or support for IVF treatments.

Online Crowdfunding Platforms:

Consider utilizing online crowdfunding platforms to seek financial assistance from the public. Share your story and fundraising goals to garner support.

Support Groups and Advocacy Organizations:

Connect with infertility support groups or advocacy organizations in Malaysia. They may have information on available resources, financial aid, or assistance programs.

Research and Education Centers:

Some research and education centres may offer financial assistance for individuals participating in clinical trials or studies related to fertility treatments.

Community and Religious Organizations:

Reach out to local community or religious organizations that may provide support or guidance on available resources for fertility treatments.


Gender Selection in IVF

Gender selection is possible through a technique called Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT). This process involves testing embryos for genetic abnormalities at the same time, it also allows for the identification of the gender of each embryo. However, it’s essential to note that the primary purpose of PGT is to screen for genetic conditions rather than gender selection. Gender selection for non-medical reasons is subject to ethical considerations and may not be legal or widely practised in all regions.

Enhancing Pregnancy Chances with IVF

Several factors can influence the success of IVF and enhance pregnancy chances. Couples are advised to maintain a healthy lifestyle,  avoid stressful sources, comply with the prescribed treatment plan, and adhere to the fertility clinic’s guidelines. Additionally, preconception health, a balanced diet, and avoiding harmful substances contribute to overall well-being and may positively impact the success of IVF.

IVF Success Rates by Age

IVF success rates tend to vary by age due to factors like egg quality and quantity. Generally, younger women often have higher success rates. Women under 35 may experience 40-50% success rates, while success rates gradually decline with age. It’s important to discuss individual prognosis with a fertility specialist who can provide personalized insights based on specific health factors.

Reasons for IVF Treatment Failure

IVF treatment can fail for various reasons. Common factors include embryo implantation issues, poor embryo quality, hormonal imbalances, or underlying health conditions. A thorough evaluation by a fertility specialist can help identify specific reasons for treatment failure and guide adjustments for subsequent attempts.

IVF and Birth Defects:

Research suggests a slightly higher risk of certain birth defects with IVF, although the absolute risk is generally low. Consultation with a healthcare provider can provide personalized information based on individual circumstances.

Optimal Age for IVF:

The optimal age for IVF is generally considered to be under 35, as advanced maternal age will reduce the success rate. However, individual factors such as overall health, ovarian reserve, and specific fertility issues play a crucial role. Fertility specialists can provide personalized advice based on a thorough assessment of individual circumstances.

Embryo Freezing in IVF:

Embryo freezing, or cryopreservation, is a common practice in IVF. It involves preserving viable embryos for future use. This benefits individuals or couples who produce more embryos than needed for a single IVF cycle or those facing time-sensitive life events. Frozen embryos can be thawed and used in subsequent IVF cycles, providing additional opportunities for pregnancy without the need for a full stimulation cycle.