In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, is a complex fertility procedure used to treat infertility.
1. Pre-cycle preparation
Before starting your cycle, the doctor will have you complete blood and ultrasound testing to determine the best treatment protocol for you. You’ll also meet with the IVF coordinator to discuss the cycle, learn how to inject your medication, and arrange to purchase your medications. The doctor may have you start taking a birth control pill to help control the timing of your cycle.
2. Ovarian stimulation
Once you’re ready to start, you’ll take about hormone injections for 10 to 14 days to help the follicles on your ovaries grow. Once they’ve reached a certain size, you’ll take a final injection to trigger the final maturation of your eggs, and ovulation.
3. Egg retrieval
You’ll have the egg retrieval around 36 hours after you take your final shot. The doctor will insert a needle, guided by an ultrasound, into your ovaries to drain the fluid and egg from each of your follicles.
4. Embryo development
The eggs will be fertilized in the lab with the sperm from either your partner or a donor. There are two different ways that fertilization can occur: by placing the egg and sperm in a special dish and allowing it to happen on its own, or by injecting a single sperm cell into each egg. Your doctor will tell you which is best in your case. The embryos are allowed to grow and develop in the lab for about 5 days.
5. Embryo transfer
During your embryo transfer, a small catheter is passed through the cervix. The embryos are loaded into the catheter and then injected into the uterus where they will hopefully implant.
6. Pregnancy test
About two weeks after the embryo transfer, you’ll be given a pregnancy test. If it’s positive, you’ll continue early pregnancy care with your doctor until it’s time to see your OB. If it’s negative, you’ll meet with the doctor and plan for the next cycle.