IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
What is in vitro fertilization?
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is used to treat infertility in couples. It involves extracting a woman's eggs, fertilizing the eggs in the laboratory with sperm, and then transferring the resulting embryo(s) into the woman's uterus through the cervix (embryo transfer) where it can develop. Most couples transfer two embryos; however, more may be transferred in certain cases. IVF is the most common form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and it is often the treatment of choice for a woman with blocked, severely damaged, or absent fallopian tubes. IVF is also used for infertility caused by endometriosis or male factor infertility. IVF is sometimes used to treat couples with long-term unexplained infertility who have not been able to conceive with other infertility treatments. According to the ASRM, the average cost of one IVF cycle in the United States is $12,400. More than one IVF cycle, however, is usually needed.
What are the steps involved in IVF?
The IVF process takes several steps.
- Ovulation Induction: First, hormone medication (most commonly gonadotropins) is used to stimulate the woman’s ovaries to produce multiple follicles, which contain the eggs. Ultrasound examinations and blood samples are used to monitor these follicles and measure hormone levels.
- Egg Retrieval and Fertilization: Next, when the follicles have reached the appropriate size, the eggs are retrieved non-invasively via transvaginal oocyte retrieval. This procedure usually lasts less than 30 minutes under conscious sedation. The eggs are then combined with sperm in our on-site laboratory for fertilization. The eggs are assessed, and fertilized eggs will develop into embryos.
- Embryo Transfer: Finally, three to six days after the egg retrieval, the embryos are transferred through a small catheter into the uterus. This is a simple procedure that does not require anesthesia. If there are any remaining embryos, they may be frozen for future implantation; it is recommended that you make a decision regarding this option prior to the start of the IVF process.
What happens when the treatment is complete?
About two weeks after the transfer, the patient returns to the office for a blood pregnancy test. A resulting pregnancy is followed for eight to ten weeks via additional blood work and pregnancy scans, but once there is a fetal heartbeat, the patient’s care will be transferred to an obstetrician.