The IVF Process

1. OVULATION INDUCTION: Taking medications to produce several eggs in one cycle

These medicines will also control when you ovulate so that the rest of the steps for in vitro fertilization can be planned.  Most of your medications are given by injection.  The nurse will teach you and your partner how to prepare injections and how to give them so that you will be able to do this on your own at home.

Following your medication schedule: It is important to follow your medication schedule and dose exactly in order for ovulation induction to be successful.  Your scheduled dates and medication doses are subject to change based on your lab/ultrasound results.

Frequent ultrasounds and blood work: Throughout your cycle you will have several ultrasounds and blood tests to determine how well the stimulating medications are working.  Individuals react differently to these medications.
- Vaginal ultrasounds provide pictures of the follicles in which eggs develop.  Your healthcare team will interpret the ultrasounds to see how your follicles are growing, and determine when the follicles are mature enough for egg retrieval.  
- As the follicles mature, they produce estradiol, a form of estrogen.  The level of estradiol in your blood will be checked several times, to make sure your estradiol level is rising adequately in response to the medications.

2. EGG RETRIEVAL:  Doctor surgically removes the eggs

When the follicles have matured, you will be instructed to give yourself and injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).  About 36 hours later, your doctor will remove the eggs from your ovaries.  A vaginal ultrasound is used to locate the follicles and guide the needle used for egg collection.  The needle is inserted through the wall of the vagina, into the ovary and follicles to aspirate the eggs.

3. FERTILIZATION AND EMBRYO CULTURE: Embryologist combines eggs and sperm

In the IVF lab, the eggs and sperm are combined for fertilization.  If fertilization occurs the embryologist will incubate the fertilized eggs and monitor their development.

4. EMBRYO TRANSFER:  The embryos are transferred to the uterus

The doctor will discuss the number of embryos to be transferred into your uterine cavity and may suggest freezing any unused embryos to preserve them for future pregnancy attempts.

: The embryo implants into the lining of the uterus

Approximately 9 days after the transfer, you will take a blood pregnancy test.  A positive result on the pregnancy test means that the embryo has implanted in the endometrial lining of your uterus, and that you are pregnant.