In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a medical procedure where sperm and eggs are put together in a laboratory to produce an embryo. If successful, the embryo is then implanted into the uterus.
This video shows how in vitro fertilization (IVF) is performed. In this case intracytoplasmic sperm injection is performed where the small pipet contains a single Sperm which is injected into the Egg, once the sperm is inside the Egg it will fuse (fertilize) the egg.
How Does IVF work? There are different parts of the IVF process:
- Ovulation Induction: Ovulation Induction using medicine helps a woman’s ovaries produce many eggs which will help increase the chances of pregnancy.
- Egg Retrieval: Once the eggs are mature, they are harvested by inserting a needle into the ovarian follicle.
- Fertilization: The eggs are combined with sperm in the laboratory setting in a glass petri dish.
- Embryo Development: The fertilized eggs are now considered embryos and are carefully monitored during the incubation process.
- Embryo Transfer: The healthiest embryos will be transferred to the uterus for implantation.
Who can benefit from IVF?
If an individual or couple has been trying to achieve pregnancy for over one year, a consultation with our specialists might be appropriate. Women with blocked or no fallopian tubes, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and other tubal issues often turn to IVF for help in overcoming their infertility. IVF is not for everyone. As a woman approaches her forties, egg production slows down. Using donor eggs, even a woman who does not produce her own eggs can benefit from IVF.
How much does IVF cost?
The cost for every individual will be different, depending on insurance coverage, prescription coverage, and the individualized fertility treatment plan. Costs vary for the first cycle of IVF, but our fertility financial counselor can give you more information over the phone or by e-mail prior to your appointment, or in person at the time of your consultation or subsequent visits.
How long does IVF take?
Depending on several factors, from the time that you and your physician decide that IVF is the treatment plan for you, to the time of your pregnancy test can be as short as 6 weeks, but it would be more common for that time to be between 10 and 14 weeks. Our ART coordinator will help you understand what tests and evaluations need to be performed, in what order.
I tried IVF before and it didn't work.
Pregnancy rates for IVF vary by age, but even in patients with the highest potential for a pregnancy after an IVF cycle, there are sometimes negative results. At your consultation, we will review your prior IVF cycles with you, review your goals and expectations for a possible repeat cycle, and then discuss the situation at our weekly ART conference, where our team of physicians, nurses, and laboratory staff will determine whether we can improve upon your stimulation protocol, or whether the chances of a successful cycle remain low. For most patients, we will determine that there is a protocol we can try to give a good chance of pregnancy. For some patients, we will instead recommend consideration of IVF with donor eggs or adoption.
What is the age cutoff for IVF treatments? Can I use my own eggs?
At the Center for Reproductive Medicine, each patient is approached as an individual by our treatment team. We use many pieces of information to plan an IVF treatment cycle and estimate rates of success, but only under rare circumstances would we be able to offer IVF after the 43rd birthday with a woman’s own eggs. Success rates do vary by age and the ART team's goal is to offer the technology of IVF to every patient with a reasonable chance of pregnancy. More detailed information can be reviewed with the ART physicians and/or the ART coordinator at the time of your consultation.
Are there any side effects of IVF?
As with any medical treatment, there are side effects. The process of IVF involves pre-testing (blood tests and procedures), medication administration to stimulate the ovaries (daily to twice-daily injections), monitoring (via ultrasound and blood tests), egg retrieval, embryo transfer, and medication to support a possible pregnancy (daily medications - usually injections).
When injections are part of your treatment, there is always the chance of minor skin reactions or pain at the site of injection. Hormonal changes with some medications can cause hot flashes or mood changes. As with any procedure, the egg retrieval and embryo transfer carry a small risk of bleeding or infection.
Because all of our IVF protocols include fertility shots to make your ovaries make multiple eggs, there is always the chance of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. From the beginning to the end of the process, your physicians will be looking out for signs that this could be a concern for you, and, if so, they will make adjustments to keep your rate of a successful cycle high, while decreasing your chances of this uncomfortable, potentially dangerous, condition.