Who Needs IVF?

Let's explore certain medical conditions in which couples who are trying to conceive may likely be required to start IVF.

Will You Need IVF?

IVF (In vitro fertilization) can be suggested by a fertility doctor to couples for many reasons. Contrary to popular belief, IVF is not always the last option if all else goes wrong. For some couples, the fertility doctor may feel that the chances of conceiving via sexual intercourse, timed intercourse, or even insemination (IUI) may be low and which would not justify the time and effort of trying. Below are some of the situations where IVF may be the only viable solution for couples to conceive a healthy baby:

Severe tubal disease

A woman has 2 fallopian tubes, which happen to be the area where the sperm and egg meet to be fertilized. In some situations, both of the woman’s fallopian tubes may be blocked. Without both fallopian tubes, sperm is unable to meet with the egg, and hence the woman can’t get pregnant. In cases like these, IVF is the most viable option.

Severe male infertility

A man produces sperm in the millions, approximately every 72 hours. However, it is still possible that the reason the couple is not able to conceive lies with the man. Here are a few issues that could cause infertility.

Low sperm count

One of the main causes of infertility in men is low sperm count. Some men have zero sperm count, meaning there is no sperm at all in the ejaculate. 

In cases like these, there may be a possibility that a sperm retrieval procedure is required to extract the sperm directly from the testes, if deemed viable. 

Should the sperm be successfully extracted, an IVF procedure would usually follow, to ensure higher pregnancy success rates.

Poor Sperm Quality

Sperm that cannot move property or are abnormal in shape makes it difficult for them to reach the egg.

Ejaculation Problems

Men who have delayed ejaculation or retrograde ejaculation may find that they have difficulty in getting their partner pregnant. 

High risk genetic disorders

Certain couples may be both carriers of genetic disorders, such as thalassemia. In genetic disorders like thalassemia, there is a 25% chance that the babies conceived will be severely affected (thalassemia major), which may result in the child requiring blood transfusion for life. In situations like these, IVF can be offered with a new technique called PGD (Preimplantation genetic disease) or PGT-M (Preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic disease), which allows the doctors to ensure that the embryos implanted will be free from thalassemia.

What is PGD in IVF?

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is a technique used to obtain gene make-up information of the cells in an embryo. 

In this procedure, 3 to 8 cells from a 5-day old embryo is removed and lab tested. PGD is able to identify over 2,000 single-gene disorders with a 98% accuracy. With PGD, couples can choose to implant embryos that are free of genetic disorders in IVF. 

Other conditions that may require couple to start IVF

There are several other conditions where IVF may be recommended as well, if earlier methods have failed:


The number and quality of women’s eggs decrease as they get older. Similarly, for men, sperm quality also decreases as they get older.


Endometriosis is a condition where cells that line the uterine cavity are found outside the uterus. It can cause infertility but can be surgically removed to improve the chance of a natural pregnancy.


Women who have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) find it hard to conceive because ovulation is irregular or sometimes does not occur at all. 

Uterine fibroids

These non-cancerous growths around the uterus are quite common. However, they do make it hard for a woman to get pregnant and may also be responsible for several other problems during pregnancy. 

Unexplained infertility

Sometimes, doctors are unable to find the reason for the couple’s difficulty in conceiving. IVF could be the answer for couples who do not know why they are unable to get pregnant.

Failed attempts of intrauterine insemination (IUI)

In IUI, sperm is injected into the woman’s uterus when it is ovulation time. Your doctor might suggest the switch to IVF if you fail to conceive after a few cycles of IUI. 

The conditions listed above are just a few of the many indications for IVF. The decision is usually highly dependent on you and your partner’s condition. Hence it would be advisable to consult a doctor to understand the best next course of action.

If you and your partner are planning to consult a fertility specialist, our fertility advisors are always ready to assist you on knowing what to prepare prior to the appointment and to help you book one.

Up next, we will explore more on IVF success rates, and what do they mean.

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