In vitro fertilization (IVF) is probably at the top of your list when you consider popular infertility treatments. There’s a reason for that. The basic concept of IVF is to combine an egg and a sperm outside the body in culture, which has been around for decades. But there’s much more to IVF than that. Here’s a deeper look at the five-step IVF process.
IVF is commonly used to treat:
- Women who are older and have fertility issues
- Women with disrupted or clogged fallopian tubes
- Women with endometriosis
- Semen count or obstruction can cause male infertility.
The IVF Process in Five Easy Steps
Superovulation can help you produce more eggs.
You’ll be given fertility medications such as Letrozole that will begin a process called superovulation, which is when the ovaries are stimulated – or hyperovulation. In other words, the medicines – which include Follicle Stimulating Hormone – will instruct your body to produce more than one egg each month.
The more eggs you produce, the more possibilities there are for successful fertilization throughout the process. During this phase of the IVF process, you’ll get transvaginal ultrasounds and blood tests on a regular basis to check on your ovaries and pulse.
Remove the eggs
A hormone injection will be administered to help your eggs mature quickly just a little more than a day before they are due to be extracted from your body. Then, you’ll have a minor surgical procedure — called follicular aspiration — to remove the eggs. This is generally done as an outpatient surgery in your doctor’s office.
Your doctor will use an ultrasound to guide a thin needle into each of your ovaries through your vagina during the procedure. A device is attached to the needle, which suctions one egg at a time out. If this portion appears to be uncomfortable, don’t worry; you will most likely be given a painkiller before you begin. Afterwards, you may feel some cramping, but it generally goes away after a day or two.
Collect sperm from your donor
Once your eggs are extracted, your spouse will provide a sperm sample. You may also opt to use donor sperm. The best specimens are then subjected to a high-speed wash and spin cycle in order to identify the healthiest ones.
Unite the sperm and eggs
The process of IVF now enters its most well-known phase: combining your finest sperm with your finest eggs. Insemination is the term used to refer to this phase.
It takes approximately 24 hours for a sperm to fertilize an egg. Instead of using the sperm in their normal way, your doctor may inject it directly into the egg, which is referred to as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Transfer the embryo(s) into the uterus
You now receive another treatment once your eggs have been taken. This one is designed to prepare the uterine lining for the embryos that will be reintroduced into you. Your doctor will insert the embryos into your uterus using a catheter about three to five days after fertilization. IVF treatment is completed in your doctor’s office while you are awake like steps number three and four.
In order to increase the chances of a successful pregnancy, several embryos are transferred back into you. In order for multiple eggs to develop properly, many women undergo fertility treatments.
The IVF technique is essentially the same as natural reproduction. After the IVF process, the next step is to determine whether it was successful – a pregnancy test.
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