Beginning the IVF treatment process can be an exciting yet frustrating experience. Usually IVF is followed only after other fertility treatments have failed.
Stages of IVF Treatment
Beginning the IVF treatment process can be an exciting yet frustrating experience. Usually IVF is followed only after other fertility treatments have failed. You may be trying to conceive for months, or more likely years. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes IVF is the first treatment tried. For example, IVF may be the first choice in the following situations:
- If a gestational carrier is needed
- If using an egg donor
- If a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked
- Cases of severe male infertility
- When using previously frozen eggs
Still, even in these cases, IVF can come after years of trying to get pregnant and taking a few fertility tests.
Just looking at the schedule of ultrasound, blood work, and injections can make you feel fragile. Add to that the cost of IVF, which isn’t surprising, especially if you’re paying out of pocket and you’re feeling anxious.
A little over a day before your eggs are scheduled to be removed from your body, you will receive an injection of hormones that will help your eggs mature quickly. Next, you will have a minor surgical procedure called follicular aspiration to remove the eggs. This is usually done as outpatient surgery in your doctor’s office.
During the procedure, your doctor will use an ultrasound to guide a fine needle through your vagina into each of your ovaries. The needle has a device that sucks the eggs one by one. If this part feels painful, don’t worry. You will probably be given medication beforehand so that you do not feel any discomfort. You may experience some cramping afterward, but this usually goes away within a day.
Sperm is collected from your partner or a donor. Your partner will give a sperm sample while your eggs are being retrieved. You can also choose to use donor sperm. The sperm are then put through a high-speed wash and spin cycle to find the healthiest ones.
Combination of Sperm and Eggs
Sperm and eggs are combined. Now comes the part of IVF that everyone is most familiar with: combining the best sperm with your best eggs. This stage is called insemination. It usually takes a few hours for a sperm to fertilize an egg. Your doctor may also inject sperm directly into the egg, a process known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).