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 will insert 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 monitor 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 will 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 will place 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 will bring 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.
Myths About Reproductive Endocrinologists
Myth: “If I see a reproductive endocrinologist, I’m going to need IVF.”
BUSTED: IVF is actually one of the least common infertility treatments performed. It consists of less than 5 percent of all fertility treatments in the United States.
Reproductive Endocrinologists (REs) usually reserve IVF for patients who absolutely need it. REs begin fertility therapy by performing many other infertility treatments first. The most common include fertility drug therapy, IUI treatment, and surgical procedures, such as hysteroscopy and laparoscopy that correct anatomical problems. All of these treatments cost far less than IVF and are not as emotionally taxing – making all of this good news.
Bottom line: do not jump to the conclusion that you will need IVF treatment to have a baby. Only if you have a medical condition or other predisposing situation that makes IVF necessary will your doctor go directly to IVF treatment. Otherwise, he or she will explore other options with you first.
Myth: All reproductive endocrinologists are the same.
BUSTED: Every reproductive endocrinologist (RE) has his or her own style and it is important that you find one you are comfortable with. As you prepare to seek fertility assistance, take the time to think about what type of doctor relationship you want. You should also think about whether you prefer a male or female doctor. Many fertility centers host open houses so you can meet the doctors before scheduling a consultation.
Some REs also specialize in certain fertility treatments and procedures. Finding a doctor who is best able to meet your clinical needs is another important consideration. Most fertility clinic websites have bios for each doctor, including areas of particular expertise that you can check out.
Take the time to “do your homework” before choosing your doctor. Forging a healthy relationship of trust and open communication with your fertility specialist is essential and will give you the best possible chance for success.
And one last note: after you have begun to see a fertility specialist, if you feel like he or she isn’t the right fit for you after all, change doctors! Ideally, it would be a specialist in the same practice so the transition will be smooth for you. You should not feel uncomfortable or worry that you will hurt other’s feelings. Your treatment team’s first concern is creating the best possible environment for you to have a baby.
Myth: All IVF centers are the same.
BUSTED: Like REs, every IVF center has its own personality and flavor. Some IVF centers have more cutting edge technology to improve their success rates.
Bottom line: Choose the IVF center that fits you.