What You Must Know Before an IVF Procedure

What to Know About IVF What to Know About IVF

Undergoing an IVF procedure? The in vitro fertilization procedure is the process of joining a sperm and an egg outside of your body and inside a culture dish in a laboratory. Still, no matter how prepared you think you are for an IVF procedure; it’s always helpful to review the facts.

1.  Know about fertility drugs and the IVF procedure
Before you undergo the IVF procedure, fertility pills or hormones may be prescribed to stimulate follicle production. The goal is to stimulate your ovaries so multiple eggs can be harvested, thus increasing the chances of fertilization, pregnancy, and a live birth.

Fertility drugs can be given in multiple sessions while you are closely monitored by your fertility specialist. Your doctor may take multiple blood tests and do ultrasounds to monitor possible egg production.

2.  Know how fertilization takes place
Once your eggs have been harvested with the in vitro fertilization procedure, the best eggs are placed in incubators in a controlled lab. The sperm and eggs are mixed together and monitored closely.

Sometimes with the IVF procedure, embryos can be cryogenically frozen for later use. Also in cases of extreme male infertility, individual sperm can be injected individually, a procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).

3.  Know about egg transfers
After the embryo has developed in the lab for a few days, the doctor will choose the best candidates for transfer. Then, using a catheter guided by ultrasound, the doctor will then transfer the embryo through the cervix and into your uterus.

Sometimes with the in vitro fertilization procedure, multiple embryos are implanted into the womb, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy and live birth. This also increases the chances of multiple births.

Because of the extreme manipulation of the ovaries that has taken place, you will receive additional supplements of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and/or progesterone to provide the optimum environment for implantation.

4.  Know the risks with an IVF procedure
Rarely, your ovaries can become hyperstimulated, resulting in great pain. This is called ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS).

You may also have side effects from the anesthesia used in the IVF procedure. Some women have occasional bleeding and nausea after the IVF procedure.  

5.  Know the success rates with IVF procedures
It may take several IVF cycles before you get pregnant. Success rates with the in vitro fertilization procedure can vary depending on your age and health status, the virility and health of your male partner, and other environmental factors.

Women in their mid-30s are at a higher risk of infertility. This risk increases as women reach age 40. There’s a greater risk of IVF procedures not resulting in a full-term pregnancy with women over 40.

When donor eggs are used, your age does not affect the success rates of an in vitro fertilization procedure. There is a 55 percent transfer success rate regardless of the woman’s age.

Also, a young healthy woman has an excellent chance of progressing from stimulation to follicle aspiration and from pregnancy to delivery. However, an older woman with many causes of infertility may have a much greater rate of cycle cancellation and pregnancy loss before delivery.

The above differences are not due to the fertility center performing the IVF procedure, but rather to the difference in couples (their age, health and infertility status) accepted into their program; and little can be changed to alter success rate.

6.  Know the cost of an IVF procedure
IVF procedures can be expensive. Because of the cost, in vitro fertilization procedures may be chosen when other less-expensive ways to get pregnant have been unsuccessful.

Remember, when you commit to the IVF procedure, you are making both an emotional and financial commitment. But knowing the chances of making a baby are on your side, most couples who undergo the IVF procedure strongly believe that it’s a commitment worth making.

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  • IntegraMed Fertility Network, The IVF Procedure - Learn how IVF works. 
  • Medline Plus, National Institutes of Health Encyclopedia in vitro fertilization 
  • American Pregnancy Association, In Vitro Fertilization: IVF.