In Vitro Fertilization: IVF Treatment Process
CCRM has helped thousands of families have babies via in vitro fertilization (IVF), a fertility treatment in which sperm and egg are combined in a laboratory setting to allow for fertilization outside of the body with subsequent transfer of the embryo back into the uterus.
WHAT IS IVF?
Unfortunately, infertility has been estimated to affect more than 7 million people in the United States alone. Many individuals or couples can be treated with less aggressive measures. However, when these more conservative measures fail or in circumstances in which they are not appropriate, in vitro fertilization (IVF) may become necessary. In a nutshell, IVF is a method of assisted reproduction in which sperm and egg are combined in a laboratory setting to allow for fertilization outside of the body with subsequent transfer of the embryo back into the uterus.
WHO NEEDS IVF?
Many couples and individuals seek in vitro fertilization because of problems with infertility that may not respond to less aggressive measures. IVF is usually the treatment of choice when a woman has blocked or damaged fallopian tubes or no fallopian tubes at all or when a male has extremely compromised sperm concentrations or is producing no sperm at all, including those who have had prior vasectomies or failed vasectomy reversals.
In addition, this technique is commonly used in women who are infertile due to endometriosis, those who do not ovulate and do not respond to lesser aggressive fertility measures, and those with so-called unexplained infertility with failure to conceive with lesser aggressive measures. Others require IVF to allow for comprehensive chromosome screening (CCS) of embryos due to recurrent pregnancy loss or single-gene preimplantation genetic testing (PGT).
IVF may also be used as a family building option for LGBTQ individuals/couples and single-by-choice parents.
In vitro fertilization is an extremely safe and effective process. The pregnancy rate by age is greater than that achieved with natural conception, although the rate of miscarriages with IVF pregnancies is about the same as those conceived naturally unless CCS of embryos is performed, in which case, the miscarriage rate is significantly lower.
Here is an overview of how IVF works
First, you will inject fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce an increased number of eggs. A personalized medication protocol is developed based on your age, past history and results of both hormonal and ultrasound evaluations. You will return to the clinic every few days where you will be monitored carefully with ultrasound examinations and blood tests.
When the eggs are mature, they are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure performed under anesthesia, in which a needle is inserted through your vagina into the ovary to remove the eggs under direct ultrasound guidance. The fluid is then examined by skilled embryologists to isolate the eggs.
Next, a sperm sample is separated from the semen and carefully prepared. With conventional insemination techniques, a specific concentration of separated sperm is allowed to fertilize the eggs the lab. In other situations, a single sperm is injected into each egg through a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection).
The embryos are then incubated in a tightly controlled laboratory environment and are cultured 5 or 6 days (blastocyst stage).
At this point, the embryo(s) are transferred into your uterus using a painless ultrasound-guided approach or they are flash-frozen (vitrified). In instances of preimplantation genetic testing, all the the embryos will be frozen first and then transferred into your uterus.
About 9 to 11 days after the embryo transfer, you will take a pregnancy test via your blood.
You might also be interested in: Genetics & Preimplantation Genetic Testing