In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) describes a technique where a woman’s eggs and man’s sperm are combined in a special laboratory in order to create an embryo(s). Depending on the diagnosis and age of the woman, an embryo or embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus through her cervix to enhance the chances of pregnancy. The first birth resulting from IVF was in 1978 in England. When this technology was first introduced, IVF was only recommended to women with blocked fallopian tubes. Currently, IVF success rates have improved dramatically, and IVF is used for heterosexual and same sex couples experiencing infertility and even single women pursuing parenthood.
The IVF process can be explained in these 4 steps; however to really understand how IVF can work for you, please consult with a reproductive endocrinologist or fertility doctor.
Step 1: Ovulation induction
Your doctor will monitor your ovaries leading up to and during the IVF process to ensure that you will release eggs to be fertilized at a particular time. Most of the time medication or hormones are used to stimulate the ovaries to produce one or more eggs.
Step 2: Egg retrieval
Under light pain medication, your doctor inserts a very thin needle through the upper vaginal wall and remove fluid, which contains eggs, from the follicles of the ovaries.
Immediately after retrieval of the follicle(s), the egg is placed in a dish and transferred to an incubator.
Step 3: Fertilization
A sperm sample is secured, either from your partner or a donor, and analyzed and added to the egg(s) retrieved. Sometimes your doctor may choose to inject the sperm directly into the egg to optimize success. The doctor and embryologist then monitors the fertilization process to make sure a healthy embryo is developed.
Step 4: Embryo transfer
Once your doctor and embryologist determine that the embryo(s) is ready for transfer, you go back for “transfer day”. This is a day full of excitement mixed with anxiety because while you’ve reached the final step of the IVF process, there are still many unknowns. The doctor places a speculum into your vagina and transfer the embryo(s) through a small plastic tube placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity.
Known to many as “TWW”, it can be 14 days of mixed emotions. This is where you can continue to rely on the RESOLVE community for support. 14 days post embryo transfer your physician brings you in for a pregnancy test and hormone check up.
Unfortunately most insurance plans do not cover the expense associated with IVF. Most physicians tell RESOLVE that patients see success with 2-3 IVF cycles. RESOLVE has compiled a lot of information about how to afford treatment.
FertilityIQ has a platform for patient led data that can help you make the best decisions during your infertility journey. If you’ve been to a fertility clinic and have opinions, or need guidance on where to go, head to www.fertilityIQ.com.