What is IVF?

IVF Is the Most Common Infertility Treatment

In-vitro-Fertilization (IVF) is a common infertility treatment. First the ovaries are stimulated to develop multiple follicles, within each one is an egg, by using “fertility drugs”. Ultrasound monitoring of follicle number and growth along with blood hormone levels determine when a single injection mature the eggs. Then the fertility doctor takes the eggs from the ovaries using a small needle, while the woman is under light anesthesia and fertilizes them with sperm in a specialized lab. After fertilization happens, the eggs are cultured and develop into embryos. Three to five days later, the specialist re-implants the embryos back into the uterus.

Watch this video to learn what happens at every step of the IVF treatment cycle.

What it is like to go through IVF?

You can also develop a better understanding of common laboratory techniques used during an IVF cycle:

  • Egg Retrieval: A minor surgical procedure using light anesthesia in which a doctor obtains eggs from the follicles of the ovaries.
  • Donor Insemination: A gynecologist places sperm directly inside the vagina at the cervix or inside the uterus (called Intrauterine Insemination or IUI). Donor insemination was previously called Artificial Insemination.
  • Embryo Development: When the sperm successfully fertilizes the egg, an embryo forms and begins to grow. When the embryo is 2 to 3 days old it is at the ‘cleavage stage’; at 5 to 6 days old, it is called a ‘blastocyst’.
  • Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A single sperm is injected into an egg to trigger fertilization. This is done with special equipment in the embryology laboratory.
  • Assisted Hatching: A laser or chemical solution is used on the embryo to increase the chances it will implant in the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
  • Embryo Transfer: Fertilized eggs (embryos) are placed back into the woman’s uterus through the cervix.
  • Implementation: After placing the embryo(s) inside the uterus the embryo has to undergo a complex process in order to attach itself to the endometrium which is the inside layer of the uterus.
  • Embryo Cryopreservation: An embryo is frozen at very cold temperatures. The preserved embryos can be used for future use.
What it is like to go through IVF?