Four Steps to the IVF Process
Many women find pregnancy success after trying in vitro fertilization (IVF). If you are ready to learn more, check out the four primary steps you can expect during in vitro fertilization . There are four steps to the IVF process:
Step 1: Ovulation induction
Before and during the IVF process, your fertility specialist will monitor your ovaries and the timing of the egg release. The doctor will make sure that your ovaries are producing eggs, and that your hormone levels are normal, among other procedures.
Typically, you will take fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible. Having several eggs available for IVF will increase the chances that you will get pregnant.
If you have trouble producing eggs or the quality of your eggs is diminished, using an egg donor as part of your IVF process is an excellent option.
Step 2: Egg retrieval
During this step in the IVF process, pain medication is given to reduce any discomfort. Then a very thin needle is passed through your 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.
Step 3: Fertilization
Next, is fertilization of the egg. A sperm sample is secured, either from your 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 through a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Then, the sperm and egg are placed in an incubator and monitored to make sure that a healthy embryo develops.
Step 4: Embryo transfer and implantation
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.
In just a few weeks, you will be able to take a pregnancy test. Many women find out that they are pregnant after the IVF process, but others realize that the procedure did not work. Before you begin the IVF process, your fertility specialist will discuss your estimated chances based on your age and medical background.
While the average couple may undergo 2 to 3 attempts with the IVF process before a successful pregnancy occurs, once you get pregnant, it is no different from a pregnancy established naturally.