The IVF Process, Demystified
Since 1978, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has resulted in more than 8 million births, as the procedure has become increasingly simpler, safer, and more successful. Today, it is the most common form of assisted reproductive technology (ART). If you’re new to fertility care, you probably have a lot of questions about how IVF works. Even though we are more technologically advanced than ever before, the idea of creating an embryo outside of the body can still seem mysterious to those unfamiliar with the science behind it.
Therefore, it may be helpful to take a closer look at the IVF procedure.
Breaking Down The IVF Process
Step 1: Fertility Testing and Diagnostics – Before deciding whether IVF is right for you, you will meet with a fertility specialist to discuss your medical history and family-building goals. You’ll also complete a diagnostic workup to get a full understanding of your reproductive health.
Step 2: Ovarian Stimulation and Monitoring – When you begin your first IVF cycle, you will get injections with the same hormones your body naturally makes, which will stimulate your ovaries to produce more mature eggs than usual. Your doctor will also perform blood work and transvaginal ultrasounds to monitor your ovaries’ response to medication, and determine if any dosage adjustments are required. Once the eggs reach a certain size, you’ll receive a final injection that completes their growth before removal.
Step 3: Sperm Collection – Any male partner will need to provide a semen sample on the morning of your egg retrieval. If frozen sperm was provided by a partner or donor, at this time, it will be thawed and prepared for use in fertilization.
Step 4: Egg (Ovum) Retrieval – Generally, egg retrieval is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure taking less than 15 minutes. The reproductive specialist extracts mature eggs from the ovaries with the use of ultrasound guidance. Typically, you can resume your normal activities by the next day.
Step 5: Fertilization and Embryo Testing – Once the egg retrieval is completed, the embryologist uses a high-powered microscope to fertilize the retrieved eggs with the provided sperm, placing them in a petri dish. During a four-day phase, the fertilized egg, known as a zygote, has all of the 46 necessary chromosomes: 23 from the sperm and 23 from the egg. After fertilization, the zygote divides rapidly, in a stage called mitosis. Around the fifth day, it becomes a blastocyst, a rapidly dividing ball of cells. The inner group of cells will eventually become the embryo. The outer group will become those cells that nourish and protect the embryo.
For issues with sperm quantity or quality or fertilization, the embryologist may use Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection. With ICSI, a very fine needle injects a single healthy sperm into each egg cell to initiate fertilization. You may also undergo Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT), which identifies specific genetic abnormalities, as well as the healthiest egg for transfer.
Step 6: Embryo Transfer / Frozen Embryo Transfer – An ultrasound then guides a small catheter through your cervix, enabling the healthiest fertilized egg, now called an embryo, to be implanted into your uterus. This procedure is generally painless, although you may have mild cramping. Additional viable embryos may be frozen for future use if not used. About a week later, a waiting game unfolds, as you take a pregnancy test for confirmation.
Schedule An IVF Consultation in New York
IVF has emerged as the most effective fertility treatment. If you have any questions or are considering IVF in New York City, please contact Chelsea Fertility NYC for a consultation.