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How Does In Vitro Fertilization Work? A detailed guide for potential patients

It can be hard to find the right treatment options if you are having difficulty conceiving. You may not get the information you need due to the emotional stress that fertility issues can cause, especially in the case of IVF (in vitro fertilization).

Ask your doctor first if IVF is right for you and your partner.

IVF can be used by women who are having difficulty conceiving naturally. This includes infertile couples and those wanting to become pregnant on their own. IVF can be used to freeze eggs of women who aren’t ready to conceive.

How IVF can help

In vitro fertilization is the process of fertilizing an egg outside the body of a woman and then inserting the embryo into the woman’s uterus. Some of the possible reasons that women and their partners may experience infertility include:

  • Sperm problems. Low sperm counts or slow-swimming (low motility) can make it difficult for sperm to reach an egg and fertilize it.
  • Blocked fallopian tubes A woman may have one or both of her fallopian tubes blocked. These are the tunnels that connect the uterus and the ovaries. Sperm cannot reach the egg if the fallopian tube becomes blocked.
  • Endometriosis. Endometriosis is when uterine tissue develops outside of the uterus. Endometriosis may cause fertility problems for a number of reasons.
  • Problems with ovulation. It’s very difficult to become pregnant if a woman doesn’t ovulate regularly or at all.
  • Egg quality. Sometimes, eggs from a woman do not fertilize. Donor eggs may be an option in such cases.

IVF: Who is a good candidate?

Doctors recommend that couples attempt to conceive naturally for at least six months before they consider IVF.

If a couple needs donor eggs or sperm to conceive, IVF can be a viable option. The success rates of IVF cycles are directly related to the woman’s age. A woman aged 35-to-50 years old has a 35-to-50 percent success rate; a woman 40-plus has only a 10% chance of success.

How Does In Vitro Fertilization Work?

The IVF process

IVF is performed according to a woman’s cycle. Here’s what to expect if your doctor decides you are a good candidate.

  1. Ovarian stimulation
    You will be given hormone injections at the beginning and end of every IVF cycle. These injections are used to stimulate your ovaries to produce more mature eggs and keep your body on track with ovulation. You will have your bloodwork done at the beginning of each menstrual cycle. Also, a baseline ultrasound. Your doctor will continue to do blood work and ultrasounds so that he can monitor the development of your eggs (fluid sacs which hold them in your ovary). Once your doctor confirms that you have mature follicles you will be prescribed a different hormone to aid in maturing the eggs.
  2. Egg retrieval
    Your doctor will remove eggs from your body with an ultrasound. The needle is inserted through the vagina. Conscious sedation is used to make sure you are awake and not feel any pain. The procedure takes about a half an hour.
  3. Fertilization
    The doctor will determine if the eggs are fully mature. If your eggs are mature, the semen from your donor or partner will be combined to fertilize them. Your doctor may inject your partner’s sperm directly into eggs if he or she has low motility. This will increase the chances of fertilization.
  4. Transfer of embryos
    Transfer is the final stage in this cycle. After your doctor has determined which eggs (now called embryos) were fertilized successfully and which ones look the healthiest, you will return to the office for implantation. An ultrasound is used by your doctor to guide a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) into your uterus in order to place embryos. Anesthesia is not usually required for this procedure.
  5. Progesterone
    For the best chance of maintaining pregnancy at this stage, progesterone will be administered daily to you after the embryo transfer. Two weeks after embryo transfer, you will receive a pregnancy test. If the pregnancy test is positive, you will continue to take progesterone. An ultrasound will be performed a week later. Your pregnancy will be monitored if the IVF procedure is successful. The process will be re-evaluated if it fails.

IVF gives couples the chance to have a natural baby. IVF technology has been proven to be safe and effective. IVF has also helped many babies become healthy. Talk to your doctor to find out if IVF might be right for you. Rise Fertility can help you learn more about the procedure.

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