Many women in Illinois find pregnancy success after trying IVF. If you are ready to learn more, check out the four primary steps you can expect during the in vitro fertilization process. In this article, we answer the common question “What is IVF?”
Step 1: Ovulation induction
Before and during the in vitro fertilization process, your fertility specialist will monitor your ovaries and the timing of the egg release. The doctor will make sure that your ovaries are producing eggs, and that your hormone levels are normal, among other procedures.
Most women take fertility medicines or hormones at this time to stimulate the ovaries to produce one or more eggs. Having several eggs available for IVF will increase the chances that you will get pregnant.
If you cannot produce any eggs, talk to your doctor about donor eggs for the IVF process.
Step 2: Egg retrieval
During this step in the IVF process, pain medication is given to reduce any discomfort. Then a very thin needle is passed through the upper vaginal wall. With the use of vaginal ultrasound, fluid is removed from the follicles under gentle suction.
Immediately after aspiration of the follicle, the oocyte (egg) is isolated from the follicular fluid. The egg is placed in a culture dish containing nutrient media and then transferred to the incubator.
Step 3: Fertilization
The next step of the IVF process is the fertilization of the egg. A sperm sample is secured, either from your partner or a donor, and the most active sperm is mixed with the egg in a special chamber. Sometimes the sperm is directly injected into the egg. Then, the sperm and egg are placed in an incubator and monitored to make sure that a healthy embryo develops.
Step 4: Embryo transfer and Implantation
The final step of the IVF process is the embryo transfer. First, the embryos are examined to select the healthiest ones for transfer. To transfer the embryo(s), a speculum is placed into your vagina and the embryo(s) are transferred via a small plastic tube placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity. After the IVF process is complete, bed rest is often advised for around 24 hours.
From IVF to pregnancy
In just a few weeks after undergoing the in vitro fertilization process, you are able to take a pregnancy test. Many women find out that they are pregnant after the IVF process, but others realize that the procedure did not work. Before you embark on the IVF process, look into IVF success rates for women in your age group. Rates will also vary depending on which clinic you choose in Illinois. You can always look at alternatives outside of Illinois or even abroad.
While the average couple may undergo 2 to 3 attempts with the IVF process before a successful pregnancy occurs, once you get pregnant, it is no different from a pregnancy established naturally. And, the IVF pregnancy is not considered high risk.
In Vitro Fertilization: IVF
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): What Is It? In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and then manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. Other forms of ART include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT). Why is IVF used? IVF can be used to treat infertility in the following patients: Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes Male factor infertility including decreased sperm count or sperm motility Women with ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure, uterine fibroids Women who have had their fallopian tubes removed Individuals with a genetic disorder Unexplained infertility Find a Infertility Specialist in your area What is involved with in vitro fertilization? There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process: Step 1: Fertility medications are prescribed to stimulate egg production. Multiple eggs are desired because some eggs will not develop or fertilize after retrieval. A transvaginal ultrasound is used to examine the ovaries, and blood test samples are taken to check hormone levels. Step 2: Eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure that uses ultrasound imaging to guide a hollow needle through the pelvic cavity to remove the eggs. Medication is provided to reduce and remove potential discomfort. Step 3: The male is asked to produce a sample of sperm, which is prepared for combining with the eggs. Step 4: In a process called insemination, the sperm and eggs are mixed together and stored in a laboratory dish to encourage fertilization. In some cases where there is a lower probability of fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used. Through this procedure, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg in an attempt to achieve fertilization. The eggs are monitored to confirm that fertilization and cell division are taking place. Once this occurs, the fertilized eggs are considered embryos. Step 5: The embryos are usually transferred into the woman’s uterus three to five days following egg retrieval and fertilization. A catheter or small tube is inserted into the uterus to transfer the embryos. This procedure is painless for most women, although some may experience mild cramping. If the procedure is successful, implantation typically occurs around six to ten days following egg retrieval. Side effects of in vitro fertilization Although you may need to take it easy after the procedure, most women can resume normal activities the following day. Some side effects after IVF may include: Passing a small amount of fluid (may be clear or blood-tinged) after the procedure Mild cramping Mild bloating Constipation Breast tenderness If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: Heavy vaginal bleeding Pelvic pain Blood in the urine A fever over 100.5 °F (38 °C) Some side effects of fertility medications may include: Headaches Mood swings Abdominal pain Hot flashes Abdominal bloating RARE: Ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) What are the risks associated with in vitro fertilization? As with most medical procedures, there are potential risks. More severe symptoms, typically from OHSS, include the following: Nausea or vomiting Decreased urinary frequency Shortness of breath Faintness Severe stomach pains and bloating Ten-pound weight gain within three to five days If you experience any of these symptoms above, contact your doctor right away. Additional risks of IVF include the following: Egg retrieval carries risks of bleeding, infection, and damage to the bowel or bladder. The chance of a multiples pregnancy is increased with the use of fertility treatment. There are additional risks and concerns related to multiples during pregnancy including the increased risk of premature delivery and low birth weight. Though the rates of miscarriage are similar to unassisted conception, the risk does increase with maternal age. The Mayo Clinic reports that the risk of ectopic pregnancy with IVF are 2-5%. An ectopic pregnancy is when a fertilized egg implants anywhere outside the uterus and is not viable. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) involves a significant physical, financial, and emotional commitment on the part of a couple. Psychological stress and emotional problems are common, especially if in vitro fertilization (IVF) is unsuccessful. IVF is expensive, and many insurance plans do not provide coverage for fertility treatment. The cost for a single IVF cycle can range from at least $12,000-$17,000. How successful is in vitro fertilization? The success rate of IVF clinics depends on a number of factors including reproductive history, maternal age, the cause of infertility, and lifestyle factors. It is also important to understand that pregnancy rates are not the same as live birth rates. In the United States, the live birth rate for each IVF cycle started is approximately: 41-43% for women under age 35 33-36% for women ages 35 to 37 23-27% for women ages 38 to 40 13-18% for women ages over 40 What if I don’t produce healthy eggs or my husband is sterile? You may choose to use donor eggs, sperm, or embryos. However, make sure to talk with a counselor experienced with donor issues. You will want to be informed about various legal issues related to gamete donation including the legal rights of the donor. How many embryos should be created or transferred? The number of embryos transferred typically depends on the number of eggs collected and maternal age. As the rate of implantation decreases as women age, more eggs may be implanted depending on age to increase the likelihood of implantation. However, a greater number of eggs transferred increases the chances of having a multiples pregnancy. Make sure to talk with your doctor before the procedure so you both agree on how many embryos to implant. How do I choose an infertility clinic? There are a number of questions to ask regarding the cost and details of specific centers and fertility programs. Some suggested questions are available online in Selecting Your ART Program. Some couples want to explore more traditional or over the counter efforts before exploring infertility procedures. If you are trying to get pregnant and looking for resources to support your efforts, we invite you to check out the fertility product and resource guide provided by our corporate sponsor. Review resource guide here. However, if you are looking for testing or options to increase your fertility chances of conception, you can find a fertility specialist with the search tool below: Find a Infertility Specialist in your area Last updated: March 12, 2017 at 23:21 pm Compiled using information from the following sources: 1. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2014). Gamete and embryo donation: Deciding whether to tell. https://www.asrm.org/FACTSHEET_Gamete_Donation_Deciding_Whether_To_Tell/ 2. Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority. (2014). IVF – What is in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and how does it work? http://www.hfea.gov.uk/IVF.html 3. Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority. (2014). Risks of fertility treatment. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/fertility-treatment-risks.html 4. MedlinePlus. (2014). In vitro fertilization (IVF). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007279.htm 5. Mayo Clinic. (2013, June 27). In vitro fertilization (IVF). http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/basics/definition/prc-20018905 6. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. (n.d.) IVF/ART. http://www.resolve.org/family-building-options/ivf-art/