What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) provides an alternative method of
achieving a pregnancy for couples who have tried and have been
unsuccessful with other fertility treatments. In many cases, it is
the therapy of first choice.
The IVF procedure allows the union
of the egg and the sperm and early growth of the embryo to occur
in the laboratory. For a pregnancy to result through IVF, four
steps must be successfully completed. Pregnancy cannot occur if
even one step of the procedures fails. These four steps are as
- Retrieval of the mature egg. Fertility drugs (hMG,
Follistim, Gonal-F) are used to ripen more than one egg. This
process is called controlled ovarian hyperstimulation. Eggs are
recovered by transvaginal ultrasound directed aspiration of the
follicles. Intravenous sedation is used.
- Sperm collection,
fertilization, and embryo development. A semen specimen is
obtained and prepared at the appropriate time in relationship to
the egg recovery. Meanwhile, the eggs are placed in culture medium
to incubate and mature until timing is optimal for fertilization
by the sperm. In nature as well as in the laboratory,
fertilization may not occur, nor does development always continue
once the egg is penetrated by sperm.
- Transfer of the
developing embryo(s) into the uterus. On the third or fifth day
after egg recovery, the embryo(s) are transferred into the uterus.
This process is technically much simpler than the egg retrieval in
that it does not require anesthesia and is like a regular pelvic
- Implantation and growth of the embryo(s). After
fertilization and transfer, further development and implantation
of the embryo(s) in the uterine lining is governed by hormones,
receptors on the uterine lining, and other unknown factors. Blood
tests will be taken to detect pregnancy. Additional hormones are
given to support the early pregnancy.
Results of IVF-ET Therapy
Couples need to be aware that the federal government requires
all IVF programs to provide cycle-specific data to the CDC
(Centers for Disease Control). The CDC periodically audits all
programs to verify information they have been given regarding
cycle success. Information on our program, as well as other
reporting programs, can be obtained directly from the CDC and the
American Society of Reproductive Medicine.
Human reproduction is
a surprisingly inefficient process. There is no IVF-ET program
that can provide a guarantee of success. Success is influenced by
the quality and number of embryos transferred, and the patient's
medical condition. The number of embryos transferred will be
determined by your age and quality of the embryos.
Information for all prospective IVF patients
- Drugs, alcohol, and cigarette smoking should be eliminated
during the IVF cycle. Pregnancy rates in smokers is extremely low.
There have been recent suggestions that eliminating caffeine may
increase pregnancy rates.
- Sitting in hot tubs and saunas is
not recommended during the IVF cycle or during pregnancy.
healthy lifestyle improves delivery rates. This should include a
well balanced diet and exercise for both partners.
- All women
attempting conception should be taking a specific prenatal
vitamin. No other supplements should be taken unless specifically
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