IVF Process: 4 Steps to Getting Pregnant

IVF Process: 4 Steps to Getting Pregnant IVF Process: 4 Steps to Getting Pregnant

Are you having problems getting pregnant? Then you may wonder if in vitro fertilization (IVF) is right for you. Many women find pregnancy success after trying IVF. If you are ready to learn more, check out the four primary steps you can expect during the in vitro fertilization process. In this article we answer the common question "What is IVF?" 

Step 1: Ovulation induction
Before and during the in vitro fertilization process, your fertility specialist will monitor your ovaries and the timing of the egg release. The doctor will make sure that your ovaries are producing eggs, and that your hormone levels are normal, among other procedures.

Most women take fertility medicines or hormones at this time to stimulate the ovaries to produce one or more eggs. Having several eggs available for IVF will increase the chances that you will get pregnant.

If you cannot produce any eggs, talk to your doctor about donor eggs for the IVF process.

Step 2: Egg retrieval
During this step in the IVF process, pain medication is given to reduce any discomfort. Then a very thin needle is passed through the upper vaginal wall. With the use of vaginal ultrasound, fluid is removed from the follicles under gentle suction.

Immediately after aspiration of the follicle, the oocyte (egg) is isolated from the follicular fluid. The egg is placed in a culture dish containing nutrient media and then transferred to the incubator.

Read a personal story of IVF and egg retrieval

Step 3: Fertilization
The next step of the IVF process is the fertilization of the egg. A sperm sample is secured, either from your partner or a donor, and the most active sperm is mixed with the egg in a special chamber. Sometimes the sperm is directly injected into the egg. Then, the sperm and egg are placed in an incubator and monitored to make sure that a healthy embryo develops.

Step 4: Embryo transfer and Implantation
The final step of the IVF process is the embryo transfer. First, the embryos are examined to select the healthiest ones for transfer. To transfer the embryo(s), a speculum is placed into your vagina and the embryo(s) are transferred via a small plastic tube placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity.  After the IVF process is complete, bed rest is often advised for around 24 hours.

Read a personal story of IVF and embryo transfer

From IVF to pregnancy
In just a few weeks after undergoing the in vitro fertilization process, you are able to take a pregnancy test. Many women find out that they are pregnant after the IVF process, but others realize that the procedure did not work. Before you embark on the IVF process, look into IVF success rates for women in your age group. 

While the average couple may undergo 2 to 3 attempts with the IVF process before a successful pregnancy occurs, once you get pregnant, it is no different from a pregnancy established naturally. And, the IVF pregnancy is not considered high risk.

Ask a doctor about IVF

Sources
  • Dugdale D, Storck, S., Zieve, D. In vitro fertilization (IVF). 
  • National Institutes of Health/U.S. National Library of Medicine. 
  • American Pregnancy Association. In Vitro Fertilization: IVF. 2007 
  • American Society for Reproductive Medicine. PATIENT FACT SHEET Risks of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) 
  • Sunderam S, Chang, J., Flowers, L., Kulkarni, A., Sentelle, G., Jeng, G., Macaluso, M. CDC. Assisted Reproductive Technology Surveillance --- United States, 2006. June 12, 2009 [updated June 12, 2009; cited 58(SS05)]; 1-25].
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