How Does the IVF Process Work? An Overview of IVF Treatments

IVF treatment

Fertility issues affect over 12% of women across the globe. For millions of these women, IVF treatments have successfully led to the conception of healthy babies. Using the latest in vitro fertilization treatments, women may increase the chance of pregnancy.

The IVF process can offer hope and create stress. While the idea of finally being able to conceive is exciting, many women do not fully understand what this process entails or how it increases their chance of conception.

The Basics of In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro is Latin for “in glass.” The term refers to processes completed in a lab and performed using a test tube or culture dish.

With in vitro fertilization, healthy eggs are placed in a petri dish with sperm in the hopes that the sperm will fertilize the eggs. After fertilization, one or two healthy embryos are then transferred to the patient’s uterus.

IVF can be completed with the DNA of the patient and her partner or with the help of donors. Depending on the health of the eggs and sperm, donor eggs or sperm may offer an increased chance of conception.

IVF provides the most effective option for women suffering from most fertility problems. There are even cases of women with severe damage to their fallopian tubes who have conceived through IVF. Couples who thought that the male was sterile have also conceived through IVF.

Egg Retrieval Is a Painless Procedure

The harvesting of eggs for fertilization is a detailed yet painless process using the latest IVF equipment. The embryos develop within two to five days and are then transferred to the uterus.

While one or two eggs may be transferred into the patient’s uterus, there are typically additional eggs. These eggs are often preserved for future attempts at fertilization.

Before the egg retrieval process, doctors use blood tests to monitor the ovaries. The blood tests are typically needed every other day. The goal is to find the right time to perform the egg retrieval procedure.

The egg retrieval process occurs in an operating room while the patient is sedated. The doctor does not need to perform any incisions. A needle guided by ultrasound is used to retrieve the eggs. When the procedure is completed, most women feel no pain or discomfort.

After the procedure, you wait up to four or five days before returning to the IVF clinic. The transfer process for placing the embryos in the uterus is also a simple procedure. Using a small catheter, the doctor inserts the embryos through the patient’s cervix. Most patients are okay to drive home following a short rest at the clinic.

Detailed Look at the IVF Treatment Process

There is more to the IVF process than fertilizing the eggs and placing them in the uterus. Patients often undergo additional steps to improve the chance of success. This may include the use of medication to suppress the monthly cycle and hormone treatments to increase egg supply.

Using Fertility Hormones for Improving Egg Supply

The use of fertility hormones is a common part of IVF treatments. Doctors often prescribe gonadotropin injections.

Patients may take these injections on the second or third day of their cycles and continue for ten to twelve days. The purpose of these injections is to stimulate the growth of antral follicles to produce more eggs.

An additional hormone injection may be given one-and-a-half days before the egg retrieval process to mature the eggs.

Retrieving the Eggs Using Ultrasound Guidance

As mentioned, the egg retrieval process is painless. However, patients may be given a mild sedative to reduce discomfort. The doctor will use a small hollow needle connected to an ultrasound probe. Using these tools, it is possible to safely remove the eggs from the ovaries without requiring a surgical procedure.

After the eggs are harvested, the doctor will examine the womb lining to ensure that it is healthy enough for pregnancy. Additional medications may be prescribed after this procedure to promote the health of the womb.

Fertilizing the Eggs with the Sperm Sample

Following the egg retrieval, doctors can fertilize the eggs using the sperm sample. The patient’s partner will need to provide this sample, which is analyzed using a microscope.

If the sperm is poor quality or if the sperm count is low, there are methods of obtaining healthy sperm, such as the use of an IMSI microscope. If there is no sperm present in the sample, you may need to consider using sperm from a donor.

Using the latest equipment and incubators, the eggs and sperm are mixed and stored in a sterile environment. Over the next three to five days, doctors will continue to monitor the fertilization of the eggs. Embryologists analyze the developing embryos to select the healthiest embryos for transfer.

Transferring the Embryos into the Uterus

The next step in the IVF process is transferring the healthy embryos into the uterus. Most patients receive two embryos during this process. However, women over the age of 40 may receive three to four embryos.

A small catheter is used to transfer the embryos. Many patients state that the transfer procedure feels very similar to the cervical smear. As in the retrieval process, ultrasound guidance is used to transfer the embryos. This process is also painless. However, patients may need to rest for an hour or two before leaving the fertility clinic.

Understanding the Success Rates for IVF Treatments

After the transfer of the embryos, patients wait and hope for a positive pregnancy test. Doctors typically recommend that women wait two weeks before taking a test.

IVF treatments do not guarantee pregnancy. There are many factors that impact fertility. The average live-birth rate for women seeking IVF is just under 30%. However, the chance of successful fertilization increases with each treatment cycle. After several IVF treatments, women may double their chance of success.

Millions of women suffer from fertility issues that keep them from conceiving. Some women try for years without success until they undergo IVF. If you are dealing with fertility issues, speak to a consultant at First Fertility, where we specialize in IVF and fertility treatment.