IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. It’s one of the more widely known types of assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF works by using a combination of medicines and surgical procedures to help sperm fertilize an egg, and help the fertilized egg implant in your uterus. First, patient take medication that makes several of their eggs mature and ready for fertilization. Then the doctor takes the eggs out of the body and mixes them with sperm in a lab, to help the sperm fertilize the eggs. Then they put 1 or more fertilized eggs (embryos) directly into the uterus. Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos implant in the lining of the uterus.
IVF has many steps, and it takes several months to complete the whole process. It sometimes works on the first try, but many people need more than 1 round of IVF to get pregnant. IVF definitely increases the chances of pregnancy if the patient is having fertility problems, but there’s no guarantee — everyone’s body is different and IVF won’t work for everyone.
Before and during the IVF process, Fertility specialist will monitor the ovaries and the timing of the egg release. The doctor will make sure that the ovaries are producing eggs, and that hormone levels are normal, among other procedures. Most women take fertility medicines or hormones at this time to stimulate the ovaries to produce one or more eggs. Having several eggs available for IVF will increase the chances that the woman will get pregnant. If a woman cannot produce any eggs, she can talk to the doctor about donor eggs for the IVF process.
During this step in the IVF process, pain medication is given to reduce any discomfort. Then a very thin needle is passed through the upper vaginal wall. With the use of vaginal ultrasound, fluid is removed from the follicles under gentle suction. Immediately after aspiration of the follicle, the oocyte (egg) is isolated from the follicular fluid. The egg is placed in a culture dish containing nutrient media and then transferred to the incubator.
The next step of the IVF process is the fertilization of the egg. A sperm sample is secured, either from the partner or a donor, and the most active sperm is mixed with the egg in a special chamber. Sometimes the sperm is directly injected into the egg. Then, the sperm and egg are placed in an incubator and monitored to make sure that a healthy embryo develops.The fertilized eggs are called zygotes and are cultured in a specially formulated culture medium that supports their growth.
The final step of the IVF process is the embryo transfer. First, the embryos are examined to select the healthiest ones for transfer. To transfer the embryo(s), a speculum is placed into your vagina and the embryo(s) are transferred via a small plastic tube placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity. After the IVF process is complete, bed rest is often advised for around 24 hours. Embryo transfer is a simple procedure that does not require any anesthesia.