IVF - In Vitro Fertilization Overview

In Vitro Fertilization is the process by which eggs (oocytes) are retrieved from the ovary, fertilized by the sperm in the laboratory, and cultured into early embryos. The embryos are then transferred into the uterus. Since multiple oocytes are desired in order to enhance the likelihood of developing one to three healthy embryos, stimulation with injectable fertility drugs, (gonadotropins) are usually required. Frequent monitoring is necessary with sonograms and blood tests. When these diagnostic methods indicated that the time is appropriate, an hCG injection is taken to mature the eggs. The eggs are retrieved from the ovary just before they are ready to be ovulated. This is usually about 36 hours after the hCG injection.

For IVF, the eggs are usually retrieved by ultrasound guided needle aspiration through the vagina. Transvaginal oocyte aspiration is done using intravenous anesthesia, which is administered by an anesthesiologist. This out-patient procedure is preformed at The Reproductive Medicine Group’s IVF and Surgery Center.

After aspiration, the embryologist will determine the number of eggs obtained and classify them as mature, immature, post mature or degenerative. Immediately following the egg aspiration, your spouse will meet with the IVF Andrologist to provide a semen specimen. The sperm is then processed in the IVF laboratory in Florida. The sperm and eggs are placed in a dish and fertilization takes place (in vitro) outside the patient’s body in the laboratory. The fertilization process takes approximately 10-20 hours. Embryos are then cultured for 3-5 days before being replaced back in the uterus by a simple technique much like intrauterine insemination.

Embryo transfer occurs on day 3 or 5 at The Reproductive Medicine Group’s IVF and Surgery Center. Embryos are carefully placed into a special catheter and inserted into the uterine cavity. Generally, 1-3 embryos are transferred back into the uterus depending on the patient’s age, embryo quality and physician recommendation. The Reproductive Medicine Group strives to transfer the lowest number of embryos possible to reduce the risk of multiple pregnancy but maintain the best chances for conception.

A serum progesterone level is checked several days after a completed IVF cycle, and the first pregnancy test is approximately 14 days following the IVF procedure.