IVF – In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of fertilizing an egg outside of the body and it is known as the most effective form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
It was originally designed to bypass diseased Fallopian tubes, but the number of reasons to do IVF quickly expanded to include other conditions like endometriosis, uterine fibroids, male factor infertility and more. IVF is the basis for many third party reproductive options, such as donor egg, embryo donation and gestational surrogacy.
The IVF process can be divided into 4 major steps: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer.
During ovarian stimulation, or ovulation induction, multiple eggs are recruited. Since the body normally matures and releases only one egg at a time each month, certain medications are given to help the body recruit more than one egg in an effort to increase the chances for successful fertilization in vitro. By increasing the egg number, the chance of developing a healthy embryo is increased.
After encouraging multiple eggs to develop, they are retrieved in our office under modified sedation by an anesthesiologist. The eggs are then transferred to our laboratory for the next step of fertilization. A semen sample is specially prepared and “washed,” then mixed with the eggs. The eggs and sperm are carefully monitored for the next 18 – 24 hours to ensure that fertilization occurs. Several of the best resulting embryos are then chosen for transfer into the uterus and additional medications are given to prepare the uterus for implantation.
The last step of the IVF process is transferring the embryo(s) into the uterus. The embryo(s) are inserted past the cervix through a small catheter into the lining of the uterus for implantation. The patient is monitored closely to maximize the opportunity for a successful implantation and a successful pregnancy. At this time, other normally developing embryos can be cryopreserved for future transfers.
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