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What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Fertility Treatment?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is type of fertility treatment that helps couples coping with infertility get pregnant. It’s also known as an “assisted reproductive technology.”

Since I’m undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) soon, I’ve been researching this infertility treatment until I can’t stand it anymore! Here’s what I learned about in vitro fertilization (IVF) from both my fertility doctor and WebMD.

For more detailed info on assisted reproduction, read In Vitro Fertilization: The A.R.T. Of Making Babies. And, here’s a summary of how IVF works…

What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Fertility Treatment?

IVF is a fertility treatment that was once known to create “test tube babies.” Now, it’s more an “assisted reproductive technology” for infertile couples. Since some fertility experts say infertility is more common now than a few decades ago, IVF is becoming more known.

In an in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, eggs and sperm are married in a glass dish. This allows the sperm to fertilize the egg – if you’re lucky. You can use your own eggs and sperm, or use donor eggs and sperm. We’re using donor sperm and my own eggs.

In vitro fertilization ovulation and egg retrieval. To prepare for IVF using your own eggs, you’ll undergo hormone treatment to control your egg production (ovulation). This way, you avoid unpredictable ovulation patterns that can mess your attempts to get pregnant with this fertility treatment.

Ovulation suppression. Fertility doctors can control your ovulation through about 10 days of nasal or injected gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRH agonist) – a hormone that basically stops your ovulation by shutting down your pituitary gland.

Ovulation induction. Then, you’ll get ovary-stimulating hormone injections. Most fertility doctors will monitor you for two weeks before egg retrieval. At home, you or your partner will inject gonadotropin or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to make your ovaries produce multiple eggs (superovulation!).

Mature eggs? After a week, your doctor checks your blood estrogen levels and uses ultrasound to see if your eggs are maturing in the follicles. During the second week, your dosage of the hormones may change based on test results; you’ll probably be monitored frequently via ultrasounds and blood tests. If follicles fully develop, you are given a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection to stimulate the follicles to mature. The mature eggs are collected 34 to 36 hours later by needle – and you’ll probably have pain medicine and sedation for this procedure.

Sperm collection. Sperm are taken from a testicle through a small incision, or your partner will masturbate specifically for the in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. The surgical sperm extraction is performed when male factor infertility prevents sperm from being created or ejaculated.

Fertilization and embryo transfer. The eggs and sperm are put in a glass dish and incubated with careful temperature and infection control for two or three days. Then, the best fertilized eggs are selected. Two to four are placed in the uterus using a thin flexible tube or catheter, inserted through the cervix. Those remaining may be frozen or cryopreserved for future attempts.

Pregnancy and birth! Any embryos that implant in the uterus may then result in pregnancy and birth of one or more babies. My fertility doctor has said there’s a 50% chance that my IVF will be successful – my chances are a little lower because I’m almost 40.

If you’re wondering about infertility treatments, read Reasons IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) Fails.

If you have any questions or tips about in vitro fertilization (IVF), please comment below!

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This in vitro fertilization (IVF) info is adapted in part from WebMD’s In Vitro Fertilization for Infertility.

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4 thoughts on “What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Fertility Treatment?”

  1. Dear Anu,

    What does your fertility doctor say about your chances of getting pregnant in the future?

    If you are doing all you can to make your body “fertility friendly” and you’re listening to the IVF specialist’s advice, it’s possible you will get pregnant! Stay hopeful and faithful, and don’t allow discouragement to creep in. But…it’s also important to be realistic, and to listen to what the fertility doctors are telling you.

  2. Houston Fertility Center

    Good article and good luck on getting pregnant with IVF. You’re chances may be lower because of your age but there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting pregnant like relaxing, eating healthy and living a healthier lifestyle. There are lots of things that you can do to help make your life and body more fertility friendly. Best of luck.