What is IVF and How Does it Work?


IVF stands for in vitro fertilisation. In layman’s terms, this means fertilizing an egg in a petri dish or test tube outside of the body. With help from the latest imaging technology and other tools, professionals can select individual eggs and sperm and introduce them outside the body so fertilization can happen. 

Once the egg is fertilized, it is then inserted into the womb where it will, hopefully, continue to develop into a healthy baby. This method lets otherwise infertile people have babies of their own rather than adopting or not having children at all. 

IVF is a fairly routine procedure that bears little risk, although some patients will feel some discomfort. Regardless, the process can be daunting for anybody, especially if the procedure is unclear to them.

To help you understand better and hopefully settle some nerves, we’ve created this brief guide on IVF and how it works. 

How Does IVF Work Step by Step?

To better understand the IVF process, it can help to break it down step by step. So, here’s a brief look at the different stages involved. 

  • Diagnosis: The first step is for a professional to speak with you and your partner and ask you questions related to your condition. We will also undertake tests to help us understand what might be preventing you from conceiving. Once we have reached a diagnosis, we can recommend an appropriate treatment. 
  • Consultation: We know you will have many questions and we are more than happy to answer them for you. Our experts will hold a consultation with you, letting you know what your options are and answering any questions you may have.
  • Ovulation Medication: Typical IVF treatment involves using medication that encourages the female reproductive system to produce more eggs than usual. It is necessary to use more eggs than usual because not all eggs will develop, so using more boosts your chances of falling pregnant.  
  • Egg Retrieval. Professionals will need to extract some of your eggs for fertilization. The process involves inserting a probe into the vagina that has a thin needle which can retrieve eggs from the ovaries. Some patients will want to have their eggs frozen should they decide they want a baby in the future. 
  • Sperm Retrieval: Sperm is usually collected by masturbation. However, some male patients might need to have sperm removed via a needle from their testes, while a biopsy is necessary in some cases. The latter methods can be uncomfortable, although painkillers and anaesthesia are used when appropriate. 
  • Fertilization: One of the most common fertilization methods involves mixing eggs with sperm, leaving them overnight and letting nature do the rest. Another common option is intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), which involves injecting healthy sperm directly into an egg.
  • Embryo Implant: The eggs are ready to be placed into the womb between 2 to 5 days after being fertilized. The process involves using a catheter with a syringe that places the egg into the uterus. From there, the fertilized egg will settle in the uterus and develop into a healthy baby.

How Long Does It Take to Get Pregnant With IVF?

How long it takes to get pregnant with IVF varies considerably from patient to patient and the exact nature of their condition. The duration of the process itself can vary from 1 to 2 months, while some patients will undergo multiple attempts before success.

It is important to bear in mind that IVF is not 100% successful, so you should be prepared for potential disappointment. Regardless, technology and methods are continually advancing, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome. Some people will fall pregnant naturally after failed IVF treatments. 

Is the IVF Procedure Painful?

The IVF procedure is not painful, although some patients will feel mild discomfort. You will be given painkillers or anaesthesia before the process so all that most people will feel is the jab of a needle. The genital area may be a little sore after the procedure. 

If you have undergone IVF treatment and you’re in a lot of pain, it’s best to speak with a professional as soon as possible. There is probably nothing to worry about, but it’s best to be on the safe side regardless. 

What Are the Disadvantages Of IVF?

Countless people have started a family with help from IVF, but that doesn’t mean the process is without its drawbacks. As such, here’s a look at some of the most commonly experienced disadvantages of IVF treatment. 

  • Multiple Pregnancies: IVF treatment usually involves implanting more than one egg into the womb to increase the chances of success. While this will make you more likely to have a baby, it also means there’s a chance of twins or triplets.
  • Cost: IVF treatment is unfortunately not cheap, especially for patients who need multiple attempts before success. It is also important to avoid the temptation of using low-cost clinics because the process should be handled by well-trained professionals.
  • Medication Reactions: Some patients will experience symptoms from IVF medication. For example, ovulation medication can cause discomfort in the genital area. You should let your doctor know if you have a bad reaction to the medication. 
  • Surgical Accidents: Mistakes will sometimes happen, and our internal reproductive organ tissues are delicate. Scratches, cuts, and other injuries can happen but are rarely serious. Regardless, you should always tell your doctor if you think something is wrong. 
  • Stress: Many people will find the process very stressful, with anxiety over whether they will be successful and what the future holds. As such, it is best if the patient has supportive friends and family there for them throughout the process. 
  • Inconvenience: Depending on the exact nature of your infertility and which treatment you have, you might need regular trips to your clinic. This can be very inconvenient for some people who will need to book time off work. 

What Is the Best Age For IVF?

One variable that has a significant impact on your chances of success is the hopeful mother’s age. Women are typically more fertile when they are younger, with success rates for IVF falling as the patient ages

Some women will choose to have their eggs frozen while they’re young in case they want a baby in the future. For example, many young women will want to pursue a career and keeping frozen, healthy eggs can help them have a baby later in life. 

Women typically begin to gradually lose their fertility in their mid-thirties. Women in their 40s face an IVF success rate of just 5%, although this is average. If you’re in your 40s and want to undergo IVF treatment, your chances of getting the results you want may be considerably higher. 

How Successful Is IVF On the First Attempt?

Pretty much any hopeful parent will want success on the first attempt. However, the process is not perfect and many people will need multiple tries before they fall pregnant, if at all. 

However, a hopeful mother can boost her chances of success by taking good care of her body before and during the IVF process. Conditions like obesity can affect fertility, so some people might need to lose some weight to boost their chances of success.

It’s not necessary to become a fitness fanatic for IVF to work. Instead eating a balanced diet of fresh foods and getting a reasonable amount of exercise can make a considerable difference. Not only that but taking care of yourself will also help improve your quality of life overall. 

Your mental health is also important when it comes to IVF. With this in mind, you should make sure to take care of yourself, get plenty of rest, and find some time to do the things you enjoy doing. You might need to draw some lines and make others aware of them so you get to recharge mentally and physically.    

And remember that good mental health is just as, if not more, important after the baby has arrived. This goes for both parents because there will be a lot to do when you have a baby to take care of. 

What are the 3 types of IVF?

3 main types of IVF treatment have been developed so far, and each has its pros and cons. Here’s a closer look at these methods and which circumstances they are best suited for. 

Natural Cycle IVF

Natural cycle IVF is often the best choice for those who need treatment that doesn’t use medication. For example, some other medications can interfere with fertility medication, damaging your chances of getting the results you want.

Because no medication is used then only 1 egg will usually be available to work with. However, this method allows you to try again sooner than with other methods, while it also eliminates the risk of falling pregnant with more than one baby.  

Mild Stimulation IVF

Mild stimulation involves using some drugs but in lower doses than usual and over a shorter period of time. This approach has a shorter cycle time, meaning you can try again sooner than with IVM, and the more attempts you have the better your chances of success. 

One of the main benefits of this approach is that the patient will experience fewer symptoms from medication, if at all. This approach also means there’s a lower chance of complications, but it is still wise to take precautions. 

In Vitro Maturation (IVM)

With in vitro maturation (IVM), immature eggs are removed from the ovaries and encouraged to mature under laboratory conditions. One of the main advantages of this approach is that the patient doesn’t need to take medication that would encourage their eggs to mature in the ovaries before extraction. 

IVM is usually used when the male partner has infertility issues. The process involves injecting a sperm directly into a mature egg so fertilization takes place. IVM is one of the most recently developed practices and gives more people the opportunity to start a family. 


If you are trying for a baby but struggling to conceive, IVF could be the answer to your prayers. It’s not perfect, but the process has still helped countless people fulfil their dreams of having their own families. 

The team at First Fertility Clinic have years of experience in helping dreams come true and uses the latest technology and methods. Our team is highly trained so you can expect the best possible results, while we also have access to the best tools and facilities available.

Regardless, if you have any questions regarding IVF treatment and how it works, please feel free to get in touch. We will be looking forward to hearing from you and will happily answer any of your questions.