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Home » Infertility Treatments » How Does IVF Work

How Does IVF Work

If you and your partner are experiencing problems conceiving then IVF, or in vitro fertilization, may be something that you’re considering so that you can achieve pregnancy. In this post, we will learn how does IVF work.

IVF is an advanced method of technology that is highly successful after other fertility treatments have been exhausted. The process of IVF involves the manual fertilization of your egg with either your partner’s sperm or using donor sperm.

The fertilized egg results in an embryo which is then transplanted in your uterus. If you and your partner are considering using IVF to overcome your fertility problems, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the following six basic IVF procedures.  

How Does IVF Work

Just how does IVF work?

Step One of IVF: Ovarian Stimulation

In the first stage of IVF, your ovaries will be stimulated to prepare them to release mature eggs. About one week before your next menstruation cycle, you’ll be given fertility drugs that will inhibit early ovulation.

Once the eggs are mature, in about 8 to 10 days, you’ll be given more medication in preparation for egg retrieval. Side effects of these hormone medications can include mood swings, weight gain, and tenderness in your breasts.

Step Two of IVF: Egg Retrieval

This second procedure of IVF is dependent on accurate timing. You’ll be given some type of anaesthesia while the doctor begins a procedure known as a follicular aspiration to retrieve your eggs.

This technique is done by inserting a hollow needle into your uterus and then into the ovary. The needle is carefully guided into your uterus using ultrasound. Once your eggs have been removed they are carefully rinsed and stored inside an IVF incubator until they are ready to be fertilized.

The process of retrieving your eggs will take about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step Three of IVF: Medication after Egg Retrieval

One of your eggs have been retrieved, in order to prevent any infection, you’ll be given antibiotics. You’ll also be given progesterone to promote the development of the uterine lining.

You may also be given aspirin to encourage blood flow to your reproductive organs and to prevent any clots from forming.

Step Four of IVF: Retrieval of Sperm

While your eggs are being retrieved, your partner’s sperm will be collected, unless you’re going to be using donor sperm. If your partner has had a vasectomy or there is not enough sperm in the ejaculate, your IVF team will remove the sperm surgically.

Step Five of IVF: Fertilization/Insemination

After the fourth procedure of IVF is completed, you’ll most likely be sent home while the IVF clinic combines egg and sperm. This is usually done about 2 to 6 hours after your eggs have been retrieved.

IVF clinics will handle this procedure differently depending on their own individual policy. The common factor between all is that the combination of egg and sperm will be placed in a solution of antibiotics, protein, and salt and then left in incubation for several days.

Some clinics will be ready to transfer the eggs when the embryo is developed into 2 to 4 cells, while other IVF clinics will allow the embryos to remain in incubation for further development.  

Step Six of IVF: Transfer of Embryos

The procedure of transferring the embryos to your uterus can be done on an outpatient basis. You’ll be required to drink plenty of fluids to increase the size of your bladder.

This will allow your doctor to be better able to see your uterus. The embryos will be immersed in a fluid that is then put into a catheter. This catheter is then gently guided into your uterus and very carefully placed into the lining of your womb.

Once the embryos have been transferred to your uterus, you’ll lie down for about two hours. For two or three days after this procedure, you’ll be required to take things slow and easy.

If there are embryos that are unused, they can be frozen for future use or you can donate them to other couples who are experiencing infertility problems.

The following steps are the main steps of in vitro fertilization and answer the question “how does IVF work?”

Now comes the waiting period during which it is very little you can do except relax, take it easy and take the progesterone which you’ve been prescribed.

In about two weeks you’ll return to the IVF clinic, or to see your personal doctor and take a pregnancy test to determine if IVF has been successful.

The decision to use IVF to achieve pregnancy has most likely not been an easy one for you.  Along with the financial implications you’ve had to consider there are also the emotional ups and downs that you’ve had to deal with.

Instead of feeling as though IVF is just an endless circle of medical procedures and tests, try to think of this entire process as a positive and exciting experience.

Be prepared for another cycle of IVF if you don’t conceive the first time. Most importantly, listen to the advice and guidance of your IVF team to improve your success rate.

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