IVF ( In Vitro Fertilization) is a medical procedure used to help women/ couples conceive when other treatment modalities have failed. IVF is a technique in which eggs are removed from the woman, fertilized in a petri dish with sperm and the resultant embryos are placed back into the uterus to help a woman get pregnant. Fertilization occurs outside the body with IVF.

This process differs from artificial insemination, where the sperm is inserted into the uterus with a catheter, the sperm then travels up to the fallopian tube to meet the egg and fertilization occurs inside the body and proceeds in the same manner it would if the sperm had arrived to the egg thru intercourse.

IVF is a complex process and approximately 5% of infertile couples will proceed with IVF to conceive. The most common reasons that couples seek IVF are:


To decide if IVF is needed couples will present to an infertility specialist for evaluation.  Commonly tests to check the fallopian tubes, egg quality, sperm quality and for hormone issues are checked. Based on these test results the doctor can determine if fertility drugs, surgery, or IVF is your best treatment option. If you have already had some preliminary testing with your primary care physician a consult with a Denver fertility clinic will help determine if your unique fertility situation is suited for In Vitro Fertilization.

If IVF is needed after a thorough evaluation treatment begins. IVF starts with the induction of multiple eggs to grow on the ovaries.  This is usually is accomplished using a wide variety of oral and injectable fertility drugs.  The protocol used is often determined by the patients age, antral follicle count and AMH level. The fertility drugs are used to induce multiple eggs to form at once. Ideally around 10-15 eggs will develop for the IVF cycle.

Ultrasounds and blood tests will be used to determine when the eggs “are ready” to be removed.  The date of the retrieval is often determined by the number of follicles developing, the size of the lead follicles by ultrasound and the blood estrogen level.

The same day as the egg retrieval the patient’s partner (or donor sperm) will be mixed with the eggs or injected directly into the eggs for fertilization to occur. The embryos are checked for fertilization the following day and are grown in a petri dish for 2-5 days before an embryo transfer will occur.

The day of the embryo transfer is often determined by the number of embryos and quality of the embryos available.  The embryos are most often injected thru the cervical canal into the uterus.   Pregnancy rates are based on the age of the couple, embryo quality and number of embryos transferred.

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