What Comes First – The Egg or The Sperm?

A day in the life of an embryologist.

The job of an embryologist (or IVF Scientist) is varied, depending on where embryos are in their development. One thing’s for sure – two days are never the same! We are part of a team of professionals including fertility specialists, anaesthetists and nurses; who are involved in assisting you with your treatment in your endeavours to become a parent.

We are involved in egg retrievals (oocyte pick-ups or OPUs), collecting sperm samples for semen analysis and post-OPU sperm processing. We also freeze (vitrify) and thaw oocytes, embryos and sperm depending upon the treatment plan set out by the fertility specialist, and are always on hand to discuss with patients all the scientific aspects of their treatment. So as you can see, it can be difficult to outline a ‘usual day’ in the life of an Embryologist, as there isn’t one! However here is a snap shot of what could happen on any given day in our lab:

A Day In The Life Of An Embryologist

In the morning (starting anywhere from 6am-8am), we ‘start-up’ the lab – this involves running a series of quality control checks on all of our equipment – it is very important for us to know that the equipment is able to safely culture your embryos within the optimal ranges. After validation, fertilisation or embryo checks are performed – with these observations recorded on our patient charts and the patients are phoned to give them an update. OPU’s are another task that is generally performed first thing in the morning, and usually involves two scientists working simultaneously; one at the hospital retrieving eggs, and the other back at the lab processing the post-OPU sperm sample ready for fertilisation. If any embryos or sperm require thawing, this is performed in the morning. We also try to perform embryo freezing (vitrification), sperm freezing and semen analyses throughout the – with the results of these sent off to the referring fertility specialist or GP as soon as possible.

Somewhere between patient appointments, we try to find a spare minute to eat lunch and rehydrate, and then we are back in the lab for the afternoon jobs! Any fresh or frozen embryo transfers (ET/FET) usually occur somewhere around mid-day, at which time we discuss embryo development with patients before their transfer. If an OPU has occurred that morning, we would be performing IVF (In-vitro Fertilisation) or ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) insemination of the eggs in the early afternoon. This requires good time management and skill on our part – as all inseminations need to be performed ideally from 12pm-2pm. This ensures that we will be in the lab the following morning at the optimal time to view the signs of fertilisation. The rest of the afternoon consists of patient paperwork and data entry from that morning, as well as preparing embryo culture media for the next day. The last job for the day is to ‘shut-down’ the lab, again another double check that all the equipment is still in top working order, so that we won’t have any little surprises happen overnight!

As you can see, the lab at Fertility Solutions is always a hive of activity. We are always striving to deliver the best outcomes for our patients, and helping you to create your own little miracle.

To schedule a free IVF consultation, please call us on (07) 5478 2482 in Buderim or (07) 4151 5222 in Bundaberg.