In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a highly effective treatment option for many patients. Through IVF, the potential number of eggs available for fertilization in a single month are increased and combined directly with sperm in an optimal laboratory setting. Three to six days post-retrieval, the fertilized egg is transferred directly into the uterus. This helps to bypass many typical barriers to conception, such as absent, diseased, or blocked fallopian tubes, cervical factors, male factors, immunological factors, or unknown causes of infertility.
The IVF process takes several steps.1 Ovulation Induction First, hormone medication (most commonly gonadotropins) is used to stimulate the woman’s ovaries to produce multiple follicles, which contain the eggs. Ultrasound examinations and blood samples are used to monitor these follicles and measure hormone levels. 2 Egg Retrieval and Fertilization Next, when the follicles have reached the appropriate size, the eggs are retrieved non-invasively via transvaginal oocyte retrieval. This procedure usually lasts less than 30 minutes under conscious sedation. The eggs are then combined with sperm in our on-site laboratory for fertilization. The eggs are assessed and fertilized eggs will develop into embryos. 3 Embryo Transfer Finally, three to six days after the egg retrieval, the embryos transferred through a small catheter into the uterus. This is a simple procedure that does not require anesthesia. If there are any remaining embryos, they may be frozen for future implantation; it is recommended that you make a decision regarding this option prior to the start of the IVF process.
About two weeks after the transfer, the patient returns to the office for a blood pregnancy test. The pregnancy is followed for eight to ten weeks via additional blood work and pregnancy scans, but once there is a fetal heartbeat, the patient’s care will be transferred to an obstetrician.