What to expect during the IVF process
In vitro fertilization, also known as in vitro and IVF, is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) — an advanced medical technique used to help treat infertility. There are many factors that can cause infertility, ranging from fallopian tube damage and ovulation disorders to premature ovarian failure and impaired sperm production. Fortunately, in vitro is a proven solution that helps many couples, single adults, and LGBT couples realize their dream of having a baby.
Following is an overview of what you can expect at Innovative Fertility Center during the IVF process.
The IVF process and taking steps to conception
IVF is a multi-step process during which a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm are combined outside the body in a specialized laboratory setting to create an embryo and then transfer the embryo into the uterus.
The treatment can be performed using your own eggs and sperm, or using either donated sperm or donated eggs, or both. It is most often tried when other less invasive fertility techniques, such as the use of fertility medications or intrauterine insemination (IUI) have failed.
Step 1: Ovulation stimulation
During ovarian stimulation, fertility hormones called gonadotropins are self-injected to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Rather than the single egg that’s normally released each month, fertility medications boost egg-containing follicle production. The more eggs harvested, the better the chances for fertilization and pregnancy. Generally, 8 to 14 days of ovarian stimulation are required.
Step 2: Egg retrieval
While you are under sedation, your doctor will gently guide a hollow needle — using ultrasound guidance — through the side of the vaginal wall and into the ovarian follicles. The eggs are aspirated (removed) from the follicles through the needle connected to a suction device.
Step 3: Egg fertilization
After the eggs are collected, an embryologist mixes the sperm with the healthiest eggs (insemination) and they’re stored in an environmentally controlled incubator. If a patient’s chance for fertilization is low or her partner has a low sperm count, the embryologist may directly inject the sperm into the egg, known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Fertilization usually takes place within 18 hours, after which the fertilized eggs, now called embryos, will be monitored for proper development.
Step 4: Embryo transfer
Three to five days after fertilization, the embryo is either frozen as a blastocyst or transferred at the cleavage stage by way of a thin catheter into the vagina, through the cervix and into the uterus. In some instances, more than one embryo may be transferred at the same time; the exact number of embryos transferred depends on many factors, especially the woman’s age.
Preimplantation genetic screening, PGS, takes place after fertilization but be-fore embryo transfer and requires a frozen embryo cycle after the PGS results return from the genetics lab.
Step 5: Implantation support
To prepare the lining of the uterus for successful implantation and to create an ideal environment for the embryo to grow, progesterone is routinely prescribed. This hormone is typically administered in the form of a vaginal suppository, gel or vaginal tablets.
Contact Innovative Fertility Center for more in-depth information about the IVF process and to discuss whether or not you’re a candidate for IVF.