Many people who are struggling to conceive may be thinking about IVF as an option to help get pregnant and have questions about this treatment.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about IVF.

Q. What is IVF?

A. IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization and refers to a treatment wherein a female egg is harvested from a woman’s body and then mixed in a laboratory medium with male sperm in order for fertilization to occur. After several days, normally 3-5 on average, the fertilized egg has divided and multiplied enough to be implanted in the woman’s uterus via a catheter.

Q. What is the success rate of IVF?

A. This can vary from person to person and depends on several factors, including the woman’s age, cause of the couple’s infertility and more. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, based on data for 2003 to 2009, women aged 35 or under had the highest IVF success rates.   The success of IVF also depends on the treatment center and doctor performing the procedure.

Q. Are the egg retrieval and the embryo transfer processes painful?

A. During oocyte, or egg retrieval, anesthesia is used. Embryo transfer is not painful, much like having a Pap smear. Both procedures are normally done on an out patient basis, at the doctor’s office.

Q. Is bed rest recommended following embryo transfer?

A. Not in most cases. Remember that in the natural way of things, a woman is going about her usual routine while the embryo implants itself on her uterine lining. However, it is a good idea to take it easy and abstain from any strenuous activity the day the procedure is performed. Most women can resume normal activities the second day. The exception to this is in cases of possible Ovarian Hyperstimulation, when bed rest is often recommended as a prophylactic measure.

Q. When should you start considering IVF as a treatment to help get pregnant?

A. IVF is not usually the first therapy utilized to treat infertility in most cases. IVF is typically used after other  treatments have proven futile,. But, it all depends on the individual situation and cause of infertility. There are times when IVF may be the first line of treatment in patients in which the fallopian tubes are occluded, the sperm count is very low or pre-implanation genetic diagnosis or donor eggs are needed.

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