In Vitro Insemination (IVF)

The process of fertilization by combining the sperm and egg in a lab, monitoring growth of the early embryo and then if successful, transferring the embryo directly into the uterus. IVF is a form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART). IVF requires a woman be on medication(s) to control the timing of egg ripening, and to stimulate the ovaries to increase the number of eggs available for collection; this step is called ovarian induction. Next, the eggs are retrieved via a minor surgical procedure, called follicular aspiration. Sperm is also collected, often via ejaculation; this sperm is then combined in a lab with the retrieved eggs in incubators in a process termed insemination. The eggs are then monitored to ensure fertilization occurred successfully, as noted by cell division. The fertilized egg is now an embryo. The 2-4 celled embryo is transferred into the uterus one to six days (an average of 2-3 days) later in a process called embryo transfer. Anywhere from 1 to 4 or sometimes more embryos are transferred at once. After this point, a woman monitors for successful pregnancy symptoms and then has a blood test and possibly an early ultrasound to determine if successful implantation and pregnancy have occurred. On average, it takes up to 3 cycles to have a successful pregnancy, though it can happen on the first try or may require many more cycles. Success rates are measured by live births, and are highly dependent on the cause of fertility difficulty, as well as a woman’s age. Women under 35 years old have a 30-35% chance of success per cycle; women 35-37 years old have a 25% chance of success per cycle; women age 38-40 have a 15-20% success rate per cycle, and lastly women over age 40 have a success rate of 6-10% on average. IVF may be done with a woman’s egg and a man’s sperm, or may be done with donor eggs, sperm and/or embryos. IVF is a very demanding and time-consuming process, that is often financially and emotionally demanding, but can be invaluable for couples facing possible infertility.