Understanding In-Vitro Fertilization

When a couple finds that they are having trouble conceiving, they are faced with many decisions. Once they choose to see a fertility doctor they will be presented with many options that can facilitate their journey to parenthood. One of the most well-known fertility treatments is in-vitro fertilization. While many people are familiar with the term, they are not familiar with how the procedure works and what steps must be taken before in-vitro can be successful.

What Is In-Vitro Fertilization?

In-vitro fertilization, or IVF, provides couples a chance of pregnancy when simpler methods have failed or if a physical condition like, endometriosis, male infertility, or blocked fallopian tubes prevents them from becoming pregnant. The process of IVF is complicated and expensive and achieves pregnancy by joining sperm and egg outside the body. Once the gametes meet and develop into viable embryos they are returned to the uterus where they are given the chance to implant and begin a healthy pregnancy.  

There are many factors that must be taken into account when deciding to undergo IVF. And, like pregnancy there are also many circumstances that must be met and steps that must be taken before IVF can take place and have the chance of being successful. First your fertility doctor will perform an evaluation that will determine if you are a good candidate for in-vitro fertilization. If you both partners are eligible, the female will begin hormone therapy.

Ovarian Stimulation

A woman is born with as many eggs as she will ever have. A delicate dance of hormones determines when these cells will mature and release into the uterus. This happens every month in healthy women and is called ovulation. When a woman begins the process of IVF the first step is to stimulate her ovaries. Depending on her condition she will be prescribed certain fertility medications that will stimulate her ovaries to mature and release viable eggs. These medications often facilitate the maturation and release of multiple eggs.

Egg Retrieval

Because the joining of the cells occurs outside the body the mature eggs must be retrieved. Her fertility doctor will monitor the growth of these eggs and once they are ready he will use an ultrasound to guide the retrieval. A special needle will be used to aspirate the mature eggs directly from the ovaries. They are then immediately ready for evaluation by fertility specialists.


Once semen is collected from the father and both sperm and eggs have been inspected by the fertility doctor the two cells are joined. These cells can be joined in two ways. Conventional insemination involves mixing sperm and egg cells in a culture dish. If conception cannot be achieved with this method, intracytoplasmic sperm injection will take place. This is where the fertility doctor will physically pair a sperm with an egg  by injecting it into the oocyte. The culture dishes used for these steps are incubated for three to five days. At this point and embroyologist will determine if the embryos are healthy enough to transfer into the uterus for implantation.

Embryo Transfer

Once the embryos are ready to be implanted into the uterus to develop into a pregnancy an embryo transfer is performed. The fertility doctor will place three to five viable embryos into the uterus. The procedure itself is similar to intrauterine insemination. The doctor will use an ultrasound to guide a catheter into the uterus. He will them place the embryos on the walls of the uterus which is ready to carry the embryos if they are able to implant. Three to five days of pelvic rest is recommended and a pregnancy test will be taken 12 days after the transfer.  A woman can also decide to cryogenically freeze excess embryos for future IVF procedures.

Unfortunately IVF treatments do not always work the first time. A patient may have to go through several rounds of IVF before a pregnancy is achieved. However at Viera Fertility Center our staff of dedicated and compassionate professionals will do everything we can to help facilitate a healthy pregnancy. If you are wondering if in-vitro fertilization is right for you, call and schedule an appointment today.