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Understanding the steps for performing IVF (In Vitro Fertilization)

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is not a complex procedure to understand. Broken down into its most basic parts, IVF has five main steps:

1) Stimulate the growth and development of multiple eggs within the ovaries
2) Removal of the eggs (Egg Retrieval)
3) Fertilization of the eggs
4) Embryo culture (allowing the fertilized eggs to grow and develop in the laboratory)
5) Placement of the embryos into the uterus

Each of these five steps can be performed in a slightly different manner based on the preferences of the physician. At IVF1, we use an evidence based approach to determine the protocols for IVF. Below is a more detailed explanation of the IVF process.

IVF from start to finish – A really brief summary of IVF and some common misconceptions

1) Stimulate the growth and development of multiple eggs within the ovaries

Drugs to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs

Drugs to prevent Premature ovulation

Drugs to assist development of the uterine lining

2) Egg retrieval (removal of the eggs)

3) Fertilization of the eggs

4) Embryo culture (Growing Embryos in the laboratory)

5) Embryo transfer

 What issues are important if I get pregnant from an IVF cycle?

IVF birth defects  – Is IVF associated with a greater incidence of birth defects or not? 

Screening for abnormalities in an IVF Pregnancy Screening  – Many women who have IVF are older and therefore at greater risk for babies with chromosome abnormalities. These women may have screening tests for abnormalities performed. The results should be interpreted with caution, however. Read why here.
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IVF Pregnancy Rates
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Understanding Pregnancy Rates

  • Ongoing pregnancy rates
  • Based on patients who had embryo transfer.
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  • Patient characteristics vary among IVF programs; therefore, these IVF pregnancy rates should not be used for comparing our Naperville IVF program with other IVF programs.

Frequently Asked Questions About IVF

No. A number of studies have looked at IVF pregnancy rates in women who were instructed to rest after an embryo transfer and compared them to pregnancy rates in women who were not instructed to rest. The conclusion of every study that has looked at this was that bedrest after embryo transfer does not improve the chances for an IVF pregnancy.

Read more ….. IVF success not affected by bedrest 

You would be very surprised. While it is certainly more expensive than other types of infertility treatments, the chance for pregnancy is usually much higher. Therefore, you don’t need to do as many treatments in order to be successful.

In Illinois, state law requires most employers to provide insurance that covers IVF. If your employer is exempt from the law, you can still purchase insurance that covers IVF through the Illinois Healthcare Marketplace. IVF1 also provides treatment financing through our affiliation with American HealthCare Lending

Actually, IVF is the only fertility treatment that allows you to control the risk for multiple pregnancy. In IVF, the chance for pregnancy and the risk for multiple pregnancy is determined, in part, by the number of embryos you decide to place into the uterus. Generally, a higher number of embryos results in a higher chance for pregnancy and a higher risk for multiples.

In order to reduce the chance for twins, a couple can choose to transfer a single embryo. The chance for having a twin pregnancy would be 0.3%.

There are four parts of IVF that have the potential to cause discomfort.

      1. Injections of fertility medications – It is never fun to receive injections but luckily most of the injections used during IVF use very small needles which just have to go under the skin. These are called subcutaneous injections.
      2. Monitoring – While you are taking fertility medications, you will need to come to the office periodically to have blood tests (more needles!) and transvaginal ultrasounds – which have about the same level of discomfort as a PAP smear.
      3. Ovaries getting larger – The purpose of the fertility medication is to mature many eggs in your ovaries at the same time. Normally, only one egg at a time matures in your ovary. More eggs means that your ovaries will be larger than you are used to. Women describe bloating, cramping or abdominal fullness as the sensation they feel while taking fertility medication.
      4. Egg Retrieval – In order to remove the eggs from the ovaries, it is necessary to pass a needle through the vagina. For most women, egg retrieval is an uncomfortable procedure. Luckily, this part is performed under anesthesia so you won’t feel a thing!

Additional IVF information from the IVF1 Blog

12 baby fraud Woman claiming 12 babies: Fraud - A woman who said she is pregnant with a record-breaking 12 babies has been exposed as a fraud, according to reports. Health officials in the woman’s home country of Tunisia have investigated the claims and concluded that she “has psychological problems and is unlikely to even be pregnant,” Britain’s Daily Telegraphreports.
infertility IVF Success May Be Dependent on Genetic Factors - An infertility doctor from Ireland presented research at the 25th annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in July 2009 that appears to show that IVF success may partly depend on genetic factors.
ICSI IVF Speeds Time to Pregnancy and Lowers Costs - Patients who come to a fertility specialist want to become pregnant as soon as possible. There are various treatment options now available for infertility; some have higher pregnancy rates and some have lower pregnancy rates. These treatments have markedly different costs and differing levels of complexity. Very commonly patients may start with a less effective […]
Twin pregnancy Single and Multiple Embryo Transfer in IVF: likelihood of live birth and multiple births - A study was done in 2009 to determine whether a policy of elective single-embryo transfer (e-SET) in IVF lowers the rate of multiple births (twins, etc.) without compromising the live birth rate. Elective single-embryo transfer (e-SET) is the transfer of one embryo into the uterus during IVF as compared to two.
verlinsky Remembering Yury Verlinsky, PhD - Yury Verlinsky (09/01/1943- 07/16/2009)   We regret to announce the death on 16th July, 2009 after a period of illness of Dr. Yury Verlinsky, Aged 66. Dr. Yury Verlinsky, born September 1, 1943, in Siberia, graduated and obtained his PhD in Cytogenetics and Embryologyfrom Kharkov University. He started his research career in genetics in Ukraine […]
trisomy 10 PGD does not cause birth defects or development problems - PGD Background For the last 10 years, the techniques of preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) have been used to detect genetic mutations and chromosomal abnormalities in developing embryos. It has been a revolutionary method that has resulted in reductions in the rate of miscarriage and babies with chromosome abnormalities and has […]
baby IVF does not cause developmental disorders in babies - IVF and Babies: Background In Vitro Fertilization has been around for 30 years now. Many studies have been performed to try to discover any possible effects on children born through IVF . A new study suggests that IVF does not increase the risk of developmental disorders in children. Many questions have been generated in the […]
High BMI Overweight women have lower IVF success rates - Female weight is an important factor in determining fertility and infertility . Physicians view weight in terms of body mass index or BMI. A BMI between 20 and 24.9 is considered normal for adults. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. A number of […]
spermsep New device tested for sperm separation in IVF - An Australian company released results of a preliminary study evaluating a new device to isolate healthy sperm for IVF cycles.  The device, known as the SpermSep CS10 uses an electrical field to separate normal sperm from damaged sperm.
thyroid_gland Subtle hypothyroidism does not affect IVF success - Normal thyroid hormone production is though to be important for reproduction.  A slightly underactive thyroid gland does not affect the success of IVF according to a recent study that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in 2007.
triplet Identical Triplets Born After IVF - A 31 year old woman in Manhasset, New York. apparently gave birth to identical triplets. This is despite the fact that only a single embryo was transferred (or so we are told). The press release from the the AP quoted a doctor who is a “specialist in multiple births” as stating that this was “an […]
preimplantation_genetic_diagnosis_PGD PGD may reduce miscarriages by 50% - Miscarriages after infertility treatment are common. Numerous studies have shown that most of miscarriages are due to abnormalities in the number of chromosomes in the embryo. This is called aneuploidy. Normally, an embryo should have 46 chromosomes or, more precisely – 23 pairs of chromosomes. In two-thirds to three fourths of all miscarriages, the embryo […]
Acupuncture Acupuncture in IVF: New study - A new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that acupuncture performed in IVF cycles around the time that the embryos are placed in the uterus may result in a higher live birth rate.
ICSI IVF Complications Explained - Pregnancy complication rates seem to be higher in pregnancies that occurred as a result of in vitro fertilization cycles. Many theories have been put forth as to the underlying reason for the higher complication rates.
Dawn standing  200 by 300 Study-Does PGD lower live birth rates? - A recent study suggests that preimplantation genetic diagnosis – PGD may be ineffective as a means for increasing the live birth rate in older women with infertility and, in fact, may actually decrease the live birth rate.
infertile couple PGD reveals cause for IVF implantation failure - PGD reveals cause for IVF implantation failure During in vitro fertilization – IVF, embryos are chosen for transfer based on two separate criteria. In all IVF cycles, the microscopic evaluation of the embryo is carried out at varied stages to identify those with the best overall appearance and development characteristics. In some IVF cycles, preimplantation […]
ovarian_reserve_testing Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH) predicts IVF success - Measurement of ovarian reserve is an important part of any infertility evaluation. In addition to identifying those women that may have a very poor chance for success, measurement of ovarian reserve is useful for determining the correct dose of fertility drugs to use in treatments such as in-vitro fertilization – IVF. Previously, a number of […]
metformin Metformin Ineffective for IVF - Metformin ineffective for IVF Metformin (Glucophage) is a commonly used treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) . Metformin is used to treat insulin resistance which is commonly found in women with PCOS. There is sufficient data currently to state that metformin use in PCOS patients can result in ovulation and thus increased fertility in PCOS […]
Rh sensitization Prevent Rh Sensitization - In vitro Fertilization – IVF with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is used to prevent Rh sensitization Background: Rh sensitization is a complication of pregnancy where a woman can make antibodies against her own baby causing that baby to become sick even while still in the uterus. This occurs when a woman with an Rh negative […]
preimplantation_genetic_diagnosis_PGD Americans support PGD - Americans support preimplantation genetic diagnosis – PGD Last published / update 2/21/2005 These are the results of what is the largest public opinion survey ever conducted of American attitudes toward preimplantation genetic diagnosis -PGD. The study conducted by the Genetic and Public Ploicy Center shows that more than 67% of Americans approve of preimplantation genetic […]