Performing magic in the lab

After selecting the mature eggs and cleaning the sperm, the embryologists start their part in the magic by adding a droplet with thousands of sperm to each egg if you're having IVF, or by injecting a single sperm into each egg if you're having intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Each egg/sperm combination is kept in a dish in a special culture medium that has all the nutrients and trace elements embryos need to develop. The dishes are placed in an incubator where the environment mimics the inside of your fallopian tubes (where fertilisation normally happens). In most cases the magic works and fertilisation takes place so that after a few days the first stages of embryo development have taken place.

In the meantime, of course, you're biting your fingernails at home waiting to find out whether you're over the next hurdle! The embryologists can see whether any eggs are fertilised the day after egg collection, so call the clinic the day after your surgery to find out how many of your eggs are fertilised. The clinic staff also tell you what time your embryo transfer is scheduled for.

Bear in mind that not all eggs fertilise normally and that the eggs that fertilise don't always continue to develop to healthy-looking embryos. So even if you start with a large number of eggs, some may not fertilise and of those that do, some may not continue to the cleavage stage.

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