The most well-known treatment for infertility is in-vitro fertilization, or IVF. This method involves bringing a woman’s egg cells and a man’s sperm cells together in a laboratory setting.
The process of in-vitro fertilization takes several weeks and usually requires the woman to make two short trips or one longer trip to Germany per IVF cycle. The man is only required to come to the clinic for one appointment, though he may choose to accompany his partner to other appointments.
The first step for IVF is a consultation and preliminary testing for both partners, which can be done in one short appointment. This appointment ideally takes place in Germany, but can also be done with the support of a gynecologist in the patient’s home country. In some cases, consultations may also be done via Skype.
The specialists will examine the couple and perform blood tests, a sperm count on the man and an ultrasound on the woman. Often, the man can provide a sperm sample the exact same day which can then be cryopreserved, so only the woman needs to come to subsequent appointments.
If the required medications are available in the patient’s home country, the patients can return home to start the next stage of the process, ovarian stimulation – or stay there, if they did not already travel to Germany. At the beginning of the next cycle, the woman begins taking medication to stimulate the follicles in the ovaries, which can be done at home or in Germany. Usually by mid-cycle, the eggs are ready to retrieve.
Egg retrieval only takes a few minutes and is performed under a short anesthesia in a clinical setting. The patient only needs to stay in the clinic for about two hours. The medical professionals immediately know the number of eggs they have retrieved, and can fertilize them the exact same day. The next day, the doctors already know how many embryos have been fertilized. A day after that, they can then transfer between one and three embryos to the woman’s body. This step requires a total of two clinic visits over the course of three days. When not at the clinic, the patients are free to do what they want, such as exploring Germany and sightseeing in Hamburg.
The patient can go home immediately after this treatment. Within two weeks, it is possible to know if a pregnancy has occurred. If pregnancy occurs, the woman can continue receiving care from her regular gynecologist or obstetrician in the home country.
If the implantation is not successful, the couple can contact the fertility clinic and begin immediately preparing for the next cycle.