Infertility affects 1 in 5 married women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 to 49 and who have had no prior births, according to the CDC. Many experts suggest undergoing an infertility evaluation if you have not fallen pregnant within one year if you have regular sexual intercourse and do not use birth control. For women over age 35, the ACOG recommends undergoing an evaluation after six months of trying. Couples that experience infertility often turn to in vitro fertilization (IVF) to increase their chances of conceiving. This complex medical procedure assists with fertilization, embryo development, and implantation using a combination of medications and surgical procedures. Learn more about IVF, how the process works, and how to get help getting pregnant after a diagnosis of infertility.
The IVF Process: From Consultation to Pregnancy
IVF is a form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which a woman’s egg is combined with a man’s sperm outside of the human body to achieve fertilization. While this process has been around for many decades, the technology used in IVF has advanced significantly in recent years. Today, IVF is commonly recommended for:
- Older women with fertility issues.
- Women with endometriosis.
- Women with blocked or damaged fallopian tubes.
- Male infertility due to low sperm count.
- Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Couples suffering from unexplained infertility.
The IVF process is intricate and involves a series of steps. On average, the process can take four to six weeks, which starts from the initial consultation and egg retrieval until the time the woman is tested for pregnancy.
Here’s a closer look at the steps involved in IVF:
1. Fertility Medications
Fertility drugs are designed to help induce superovulation. These medications contain Follicle Stimulating Hormone which sends a signal to the body to produce more than one egg per month. The more eggs that a woman produces through the process of stimulation, the more likely she is to have a successful fertilization later in the treatment.
2. Egg Removal
Just before the eggs are removed from the body, a hormone injection is administered to help the eggs mature more quickly. Next, a minor surgical procedure known as follicular aspiration is performed to remove the eggs. During this outpatient procedure, a thin needle is guided into the ovaries through the vagina with assistance from ultrasound technology. The needle contains a device that suctions and retrieves the eggs.
3. Sperm Retrieval
For successful fertilization to occur, a woman’s egg must be united with a man’s sperm. This requires the male partner to provide a sperm sample. Alternatively, a woman can choose to use donor sperm. Once a sperm sample has been collected, it is put through a high-speed wash, followed by a spin cycle which helps indicate the healthiest options.
4. Uniting Egg and Sperm
The next step of the IVF process is known as insemination and occurs when the woman’s best eggs are united with the man’s sperm. It generally takes several hours for the sperm to fertilize the egg. In some instances, the sperm is injected directly into the egg, a process referred to as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
5. Embryo Transfer
The final step in the IVF process is the transfer of the embryo or embryos into the uterus. After egg retrieval, another medication is administered to prepare the lining of the uterus to successfully receive the embryos. Approximately three to five days after fertilization, the embryos are placed in the uterus using a catheter in hopes that one will implant in the uterine lining. In some cases, more than one embryo will implant, resulting in multiples.
Schedule an Appointment with Viera Fertility Center
It can be disheartening for couples to discover that they have a low chance of naturally conceiving. Fortunately, Melbourne IVF is available to help make the dream of pregnancy a reality. Located in Melbourne FL, Viera Fertility is a comprehensive fertility center that offers a wide range of treatments to help couples conceive, such as fertility drug therapy, intrauterine insemination, and in vitro fertilization. To learn more, contact our Melbourne fertility center at 321-751-4673 to schedule a consultation.