In Vitro Fertilization

The in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure involves hormone injections for the purpose of stimulating the ovaries to mature eggs. After the eggs develop, they are retrieved through an aspiration process. Fertilization is done in the laboratory, and the resulting embryos are transferred to the recipient’s uterus.


What is the purpose of IVF?

In vitro fertilization is the best-known fertility treatment for both male and female infertility. This highly effective option has a high success rate.


Who should have in vitro fertilization?

Originally designed for treating women with tubal defects, in vitro fertilization can help with many types of infertility. This procedure is especially helpful for couples who have not had success with less invasive treatments. Appropriate candidates include those people who have:

  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Cervical mucus problems
  • Endometriosis
  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Male factor infertility
  • Certain genetic diseases


What are the stages of the in vitro fertilization process?

The typical IVF cycle has four main stages, which the fertility specialist will explain to you in detail. These are:

  • Stage one: Ovarian stimulation – Also called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, this involves stimulating the maturation of ovarian follicles, which are sacs that contain an egg. Ovarian stimulation involves using fertility medications to promote the maturation of multiple follicles, producing multiple eggs. The woman’s progress is monitored using ultrasound and laboratory tests during this stage.
  • Stage two: Egg retrieval – Before eggs are retrieved from the follicles, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is administered to stimulation ovulation. Approximately 36 hours after this, the eggs are harvested using ultrasound-guided aspiration. This procedure is performed using anesthesia, so no pain is involved.
  • Stage three: Fertilization and cell division – In the laboratory setting, the eggs are fertilized with sperm. The sperm is taken from the male donor, analyzed, and then, specially prepared. If the couple has male factor infertility, the success is greatly increased using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The fertilized eggs (embryos) are assessed using preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).
  • Stage four: Embryo transfer – On day three, the embryos are transferred to the uterus using a small, flexible catheter.


Is IVF used often?

In vitro fertilization is a commonly used fertility treatment for couples who struggle with conception. Considered a ‘high-tech’ treatment, IVF accounts for almost 99% of all assisted reproductive technology (ART) options. In the United States, about one out of 100 infants are born using ART.


Who benefits from in vitro fertilization?

The IVF procedure will benefit anyone who has problems with:

  • Low sperm count
  • Sperm mobility issues
  • Ovulation
  • Egg quality
  • Blocked fallopian tubes
  • Unexplained infertility


How much time is involved with the IVF process?

From beginning to end of the IVF process, the treatment takes around 4-6 weeks, depending on the couple. This timeframe is called a ‘cycle,’ and not every couple achieves pregnancy with one cycle. After ovulation, the eggs mature, and it takes several hours for the doctor to retrieve the eggs. The fertilization process is done on the same day as egg retrieval. The couple returns in around 3-5 days for the embryo transfer procedure.


What is the IVF success rate?

Every couple has a different response to IVF, and results depend on the extent of the infertility problems. The younger the woman, the higher the success rate. According to statistics from the Association of Reproductive Medicine, IVF has a 41% success rate for those women who are age 34 years and older. These rates decrease with advancing age.