FAQ About IVF Procedures

Undergoing an IVF procedure can be both an exciting and a difficult time. It can be exciting because it offers real hope for fertility success. At the same time, it can be difficult because it is often a treatment that is only tried when there is no other option remaining. Whatever the case for you, understanding what IVF is and how the IVF procedure works can help ease your mind and give you the information you need to make informed decisions.

The Basics

The term IVF stands for “in vitro fertilization.” In vitro means “in the lab.” The term describes the attempt to fertilize human eggs in the lab using a petri dish and sperm cells that have been specially washed. The hope with this artificial insemination process is that some of the eggs will be successfully fertilized by the sperm and form an embryo. The embryos will then be placed in the mother’s uterus to grow and form in the same way that all babies do.

Getting Extra Help

Sometimes the sperm cells in an IVF procedure will need help to successfully fertilize. In some case, intracytoplasmic sperm injection is used to inject a sperm cell directly into an egg. Sometimes this is necessary if previous IVF treatments haven’t worked, or if the male infertility is particularly serious.

Getting Eggs

In order to accomplish a successful egg harvest, it is usually necessary to stimulate the ovaries. This is often done by fertility drugs that push the ovaries to mature a dozen or so eggs in a month instead of the usual one or two.

Does it Work?

A study of over 155,000 women who had an IVF procedure showed that success rate for the first cycle IVF was nearly 30%, which is comparable to natural fertility rates among healthy couples. In addition, success rates go up the more times IVF treatment is tried. After six cycles, the success rate is over 65%.

Are the Odds the Same For Everyone?

IVF treatment success varies depending on the reasons for a couple’s infertility and the age of both parties, but particularly the woman. There are some things that can be tried to better the chances of successful fertility, but it’s always a smart idea to talk to your doctor about all the pros and cons of your particular condition, the likelihood of IVF treatment success, and your personal goals.

Are There Any Side Effects to IVF?

All medical procedures carry some risk, but in general IVF procedures are considered safe. About 10% of women who go through IVF will develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, but for most who do there are few symptoms and a quick recovery. Less than 1% of women will experience serious issues.

What About Multiple Births?

One of the most well-known “side effects” of IVF treatment is the possibility of multiple births. It is much more likely that a couple will have twins, triplets, or even more births with IVF treatment than with natural conception. This is something a doctor can advise you about.

When Will We Know if Fertilization Worked?

Between three and five days after the IFV procedure happens in the lab, the medical professionals in charge of your fertility treatment will look for healthy embryos. The healthiest ones, between one and five total, will then be transferred to the mother’s womb. After this point it normally takes between nine days and two weeks before you’ll know for certain whether or not the fertilization and transfer were successful.

How Much Does it Cost?

IVF is an expensive procedure and is often not covered by insurance. However, it is possible to get financial assistance in some cases, and for many couples who cannot conceive, the joy of having a child-or even multiple children-far outweighs the costs.

There are more types of IVF treatments available than have been described here. All of them have just one goal: to help you conceive a child and know the joy of being a parent. If you are struggling with infertility, look into options in your area where you can find out more about fertility treatments and just what IVF can do for you.

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