IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) is an assisted fertility treatment that fertilizes the egg(s) outside of the woman’s womb. It is the most successful treatment for infertility so far, and a procedure that has been in use for over 40 years. If a couple is having difficulties conceiving after trying for about 6 months, then it may be time to see a fertility specialist.
The doctor will perform a series of tests in order to determine what the problem may be. They will then determine the best course of action, IVF treatments are considered the best course of fertility treatment after other assisted methods have failed (Clinical review 100: Evaluation and treatment of the infertile couple PUBMED).
The 6 Steps of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)
The doctor will perform a kind of test run for the embryo implantation in order to determine the optimum placement and catheter size. You may begin the procedure by taking birth control pills for a pre-set time; this is to decrease the chances of cysts developing, and to control the cycle timing.
IVF Step 2 Stimulating the Ovaries
The second step is stimulating the ovaries to produce more than just the normal single mature egg. During normal ovulation only one egg is produced, for IVF procedures the doctor wants to have as many healthy eggs as possible to select from for implantation. Unused embryos can be frozen for follow up procedures if the first one is unsuccessful or they can be donated to other couples.
IVF Step 3 Egg Retrieval and Trigger shot
The third step is the administering of what is called the trigger shot. This causes the follicles to mature and starts ovulation. This is when the doctor retrieves the mature eggs to be fertilized.
IVF Step 4 Fertilization and Embryo Development
The fourth step is the fertilization of the eggs to create the embryos to be implanted. The fertility specialist will decide what the best method of fertilization is based on the conditions. With strong, healthy sperm they can merely introduce sperm to the egg and fertilization will generally occur. For cases with weaker sperm they may use the ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) method. In this method a single sperm is injected directly into the egg. After fertilization the embryo will develop within a few days.
IVF Step 5 Embryo Transfer
The fifth step is the transfer of the embryo. This is actually a simple procedure that only takes about 5 minutes. It is painless and so requires no anesthesia and no recovery time. Generally the doctor will perform an elective single embryo transfer (eSET) procedure. For this they will select the best looking embryo and implant it. This method minimizes the chances of having doubles (or more) and still has a high chance of success.
IVF Step 6 Pregnancy Test
The sixth step is a pregnancy test. If the test is positive you will be tested again in a few days. The results of this second test will determine if a third is required. If all three tests are positive then you will be scheduled for an ultrasound in about 6 weeks. At this point it will be determined if the procedure was successful or not.
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