IVF procedure

Oocyte viewed with HMC
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What is an IVF procedure?

If you have been considering using in vitro fertilization, you’ve no doubt been wondering exactly what the IVF procedure is. While it is a fairly straightforward medical system with very few complications, it can seem a little strange for those used to natural conception. To help demystify the process a little bit, here is the exact 5 step procedure with a short explanation of each step:

Step 1: This is the critical first step that gets everything going; it is commonly referred to as ovulation induction. Fertility drugs are prescribed to not only increase fertility, but also to help to control the timing of the egg cycle (ovulation). The goal is to stimulate as many eggs as possible because not all of them will fertilize properly, and to ensure that this happens the doctor will do blood tests to ensure that hormone levels are the right amounts. This step has virtually no downside other than that if hormone supplements are prescribed they could have minor side effects.

Step 2: Once the egg cycle is timed and enough eggs have been produced, the next step in the IVF procedure is to actually remove the eggs to that they can be fertilization. The procedure is pretty simple; the patient is numbed locally and lightly sedated, then the eggs are removed using a hollow needle. Keep in mind that the needle is guided using ultrasound and that because of the local anesthesia there will be minimal discomfort. However, it is common to have a ‘full’ feeling for a week or two, so don’t stress too much if there is a feeling of pressure.

Step 3: This is the first step in the IVF procedure that the woman is not involved. At this time, sperm from ejaculation is tested and prepped for fertilizing the removed eggs. This sperm can come from a donor or from a bank, leaving options open for one without their own donor.

Step 4: As with natural conception, the sperm is introduced to the eggs to fertilize them. However, since there is not that natural warmth of a uterus this has to be done in an incubator in order to make sure that everything survives. If there is a strong risk of fertilization failing, the doctor will individually insert a single sperm into each egg to give the highest chance of success, but this does not have to be done in every case.

Step 5: In the last step of the IVF procedure the fertilized eggs are inserted into the uterus. This is done with the use of a catheter, and the eggs are suspended in fluid to prevent any physical trauma. In most cases the doctor recommends rest until it is confirmed that the insertion has been successful, but it is not a firm order of bed rest.

That’s really all there is to the IVF procedure. There is very little discomfort through the entire process, and even when there is the doctor will do what they can to ensure that it is minimized.

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