In vitro fertilization is a powerful solution for families looking to conceive. It is a popular option for women battling non-functioning fallopian tubes and for couples dealing with certain types of male factor infertility – IVF can overcome a very wide variety of fertility obstacles.
If your fertility clinic has recommended in vitro fertilization, this quick guide can serve as a brief introduction to the basic process and timeline. IVF is a complicated an exacting science but the more you know, the more comfortable you will feel going into your first appointment.
Inducing Egg Production
While it is technically possible to complete in vitro fertilization with just one egg, you can increase your chances for success by producing multiple eggs for the clinic to choose from – this requires some work, since the body naturally produces only one or two each cycle. Your IVF clinic can stimulate the production of multiple eggs by giving you specially prepared hormonal medication, often self-injected.
Periodic blood tests and ultrasounds will help you and the clinic monitor the development of the eggs. After the first week of egg development, the clinic may ask you to begin doing daily blood tests to look for hormonal markers that signal when the eggs are mature.
You may begin to feel a little bit uncomfortable as the size of your ovaries increases under the load of developing egg follicles. As your date of retrieval inches closer, the clinic may conduct a trial transfer / examination of your uterus in preparation of the next steps.
Egg Retrieval and Preparation
Retrieval is usually a simple outpatient process. The physician will provide you with light anesthesia before using a needle – placed through the vaginal opening – to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries.
The embryology team will take time to evaluate each egg for health, development, and quality. The sperm (usually a very fresh sample) undergoes a similar evaluation at this time. The clinic will isolate the sperm that shows the greatest health and vitality and will inject those directly into the eggs.
It takes a few hours to establish whether the fertilization has been successful. After a few days, the clinic will let you know if the fertilized eggs are seeing the expected rate of growth. The clinic will allow the eggs to grow and develop for a few days before the transfer.
If you want a blastocyst transfer, you may have to wait a few additional days for development. Women who have multiple viable embryos to choose from will often wait until they progress to the blastocyst stage – the embryos that develop all the way into a blastocyst have a better chance of surviving in the uterus.
Three to five days after the retrieval (depending on whether you chose to conduct the process with embryos or blastocysts), the clinic will call you in for the transfer. Only the healthiest embryos/blastocysts will make the cut. The clinic cannot implant too many otherwise you might run the risk of a multiple pregnancy. The final number of implanted embryos often totals around three.
The procedure is very simple, just about as simple as the retrieval process. Your IVF physician will use a thin catheter to transfer the embryos through your cervix and into your uterus. This is often done without any anesthesia and you can go straight home afterwards to await your results. Make sure to reduce your level of activity – stay calm, relaxed, and patient.
After about ten days, you will be able to take a pregnancy test to determine your results. Even if the transfer does not result in pregnancy, it is not too difficult to try again if you opted to have the extra embryos cryogenically preserved. This is a safe and popular cost-saving option for families looking to conceive.
Every IVF clinic does things a little differently. Your experience will be different than the one outlined in this guide – especially if you are choosing donor eggs or sperm – but the general process will remain the same. If you have not yet begun the process, take some time to contact Genesis in NYC for awesome care and attention.
If you want to know exactly what to expect during your own in vitro fertilization, you should contact your clinic for a thorough briefing. Never let a question go unasked. Are you ready for IVF? The process can be complicated and difficult, but ultimately very rewarding.