In Vitro Fertilization - IVF Treatment Process
Infertility is medically defined as the inability to become pregnant after one year of unprotected sexual intercourse using no methods of birth control whatsoever. Unfortunately, infertility affects over six million people in the United States alone. In vitro fertilization is a method of assisted reproduction in which a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg are combined in a laboratory dish to allow for fertilization outside of the body.
Many couples and even single women are seeking IVF treatment because sexual intercourse has not resulted in pregnancy. With the IVF treatment process, the eggs are taken from the woman’s ovary, placed with sperm in a dish, or a single sperm is injected into the egg to achieve fertilization. The resulting embryos from the in vitro process are placed inside the woman's uterine cavity by passing a catheter through the cervix. Embryo freezing is also done if there are extra embryos after the transfer.
IVF treatment process is usually the procedure of choice when a woman has blocked or damaged fallopian tubes or no fallopian tubes at all. The IVF treatment process has proven successful for women who are infertile due to endometriosis and for men who have a low sperm count.
In vitro fertilization is extremely safe and effective. The pregnancy rate by age is similar to that of pregnancy from natural conception, and the rate of miscarriages with IVF pregnancies is about the same as with normally conceived pregnancies.
Here is a brief overview of how IVF works:
First, women may be given hormones to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs prior to the in vitro process. A needle is inserted through the vagina into the ovary to remove eggs, and the fluid that is removed is examined carefully to ensure there are eggs present. The male provides a semen sample, and the sperm are separated from the semen in a laboratory. The active sperm are then combined with the eggs in a laboratory dish. After 18 hours or so, it can be determined if the IVF process worked. Viable embryos are incubated and observed over the next couple of days. Finally, the embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus. If the in vitro process worked, the woman will test positive for pregnancy.
The steps involved in an IVF treatment cycle include controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization and embryo culture, and embryo transfer. Embryo freezing is also done if there are extra embryos remaining after the embryo transfer is done.