IVF, Step by Step
1 Hormonal therapy* For Follicle Stimulation.
At the beginning of the woman’s menstrual cycle, blood tests and a baseline ultrasound are conducted to evaluate her hormone levels, the anatomy of her uterus, as well as the number of follicles (the sacs that produce egg cells) present in her ovaries.
If everything is fine, doctors prescribe hormones to stimulate the follicles to produce more than the normal amount of eggs the patient produces per cycle—because the more they harvest, the higher the patient’s chances of getting pregnant.
The medication can be selfadministered, typically through injection. The patient takes the hormones for about a week and doctors can change doses, if needed, to achieve the ideal follicle growth rate. Common side effects include: headaches, nausea, and bloating, though such symptoms usually disappear during the next cycle.
2 egg and Sperm retrieval.
Once the follicles are big enough, the eggs will be retrieved through a transvaginal probe that suctions them out of the ovaries. This outpatient procedure only takes 10 to 15 minutes. The man’s sperm will also be collected, and fertilization will happen on the same day.
In the test tube or petri dish, the egg and sperm are left to fertilize naturally. In cases where the sperm are unable to fertilize the egg on their own, doctors resort to intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which a single sperm is inserted directly into the egg using a needle.
4 embryo transfer.
Resulting embryos are cultured for about two to five days, until they become multi-celled bodies. Then they are transferred to the woman’s uterus, where they will hopefully implant. The patients are asked to come back some days later to undergo a clinicbased pregnancy test.