IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) treatment has been available for around 40 years and has helped millions of people worldwide overcome fertility issues. If you are new to the idea of IVF, it can be overwhelming. Below, we have broken it down into 7 steps, with a brief explanation of each. Hopefully, this takes some of the apprehension out of the process and gives you a bit of useful information.
- Whether you have been trying for years, or have recently been told that you need to see a specialist, the first step in IVF treatment will be the initial consultation with your REI Doctor (Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Doctor). During the visit, the Doctor will review any medical records you have, take a thorough medical history, and order a set of tests typically known. as pre-cycle lab work. Once these tests are completed, the Doctor will then be able to devise a treatment protocol. This protocol will be used by your treatment team and you and will provide you with medication dosages and timetables, as well as tentative dates for egg retrieval and embryo transfer, if appropriate. Keep in mind that the information may change based on how. your body is responding to treatment.
- Once all testing is complete, and your Doctor has determined that it is appropriate to start treatment, you begin with medications to stimulate your ovaries. Typically, a woman produces one egg per month. The purpose of medications is to allow the growth of multiple follicles, which will increase your chances of success. This medication, called ovarian stimulation medication, is generally a combination of follicle stimulating hormones and luteinizing hormones, which are produced naturally by the body during ovulation. The medication dosage and timing is very specific, so it is important to closely follow instructions and to call your nurse should you have any questions.
- The next step is to monitor your ovarian stimulation. During the monitoring step, you will come to the office approximately 5 – 8 times. Your doctor will be performing a transvaginal ultrasound each time you come to the office. This is done to measure the growth of the follicles and to check your uterine lining, which should be getting thicker in preparation for implantation. You will also have bloodwork done each visit, to check your estrogen levels, which rise as the eggs continue to grow and mature. There may be times when your nurse calls with your results that your medication dosage may change. This is done based on what the Doctors’ evaluation of your lab results indicate to him/her.
- The next step is your “Trigger Shot” and Egg Retrieval. Your Doctor times the egg retrieval exactly, by giving you what is called a trigger shot. Around 34 – 36 hours after the shot, you and your partner (if applicable) will be seen at our fully accredited surgical center. During actual egg retrieval, the Doctor will use ultrasound guidance to vaginally aspirate the follicles from each ovary. The procedure itself takes between 20-30 minutes, and you are able to go home the same day, generally within 2 hours. You will be given IV sedation, with monitored anesthesia care, so you will not feel any discomfort during the procedure.
- Once the eggs are collected, and the sperm has been washed, fertilization is the next step. Our embryologist will most often use a procedure known as ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection). This is a process in which the embryologist will select a single sperm and inject it into the egg, thereby substantially increasing the chances of successful fertilization. Your embryos are then carefully watched and checked for development in our state of the art embryology laboratory. Your nurse will be providing updates on the embryos, as they continue to progress.
- The next step is either embryo transfer, or embryo cryopreservation and freezing. The decision to either transfer or freeze is based on several factors, including whether or not PGS (pre-implantation genetic screening) is being done. PGS is a process that is used to evaluate embryos for chromosomal abnormalities or for other purposes such as gender selection for family balancing. The results of PGS generally come back too late to transfer during the month of treatment, so the embryos will be cryopreserved and frozen until the transfer can be done at a future date. An embryo transfer procedure has minimal discomfort and typically requires no sedation. The decision on how many embryos to transfer is based on different factors and is something that will be discussed between you and your Doctor. Following the transfer, it is generally recommended for the mom to be to have a 1 – 3 day rest period.
- The next step is will be your pregnancy tests. We generally schedule 2 blood pregnancy tests, approximately 2 weeks after your transfer. This will be an exciting time, and unfortunately, it can also be a very tense time, as you wait for results. Should the results not be as we all hope, please know that your Doctor, as well as the staff here at RFC, will do our best to explain what has happened, and what your next steps should be.
When you are ready to become the parent you were meant to be, please call us at 310.929.6707