WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM IN VITRO FERTILIZATION (IVF)?

IVF is a process used for those couples who are having complications with natural conception and have chosen to receive assistance. Often this option is only chosen in instances where the couples have exhausted many of the other fertility drugs or surgical options. For many the IVF process has been explained as a complicated method, but in reality there are only six main steps to undergo.

The first thing patients undergo when they show an interest in an IVF cycle is to undergo an intake interview. This is the first meeting you will have with your reproductive endocrinologist, and it will be centered on discussing the fertility and medical histories of the couple. If the couple is indicated for an IVF cycle, a treatment regimen will be developed to result in the best chances of conception for the couple.

The second thing to undergo if deemed viable as an IVF patient is a round of testing to determine the exact status and quality of eggs present. Patients will also have a number of meetings with a nurse to be taught how to properly self-administer fertility drugs, something that occurs throughout the process.

The third thing is the administration of a round of fertility drugs to stimulate the production of as many eggs as possible within this cycle. For a period of two weeks, there will be between one to three self-administered shots each day to stimulate this effect. Numerous visits (typically five) to the clinic for blood monitoring and ultrasounds will be made to ensure progress is being made in a consistent, healthy pace.

The fourth stage is a narrow window of time that occurs just before the body would naturally release the eggs into the fallopian tubes. It is at this stage that the eggs to be used will be harvested and evaluated for quality and viability. The male partner will produce a semen sample during this visit to be used with the harvested eggs. With clinic assistance to ensure the best sperm (most potent) of the sample will be used for fertilization. Fertilized embryos produced at this stage will remain in the clinic to be incubated and monitored.

The fifth stage is the transfer of the most potent embryos back into the body. Typically two to three embryos are re-inserted to increase the chances of pregnancy during this stage. Embryos can be tested prior to re-insertion to look for possible defects if the patients think there is a risk of these occurring.

The final stage is simply a matter of time, and it is to wait for the outcome of the IVF cycle. Often after a period of two weeks (during which there will be further injections of fertility hormones to aid with implantation), the patient will return to the Denver fertility clinic for a pregnancy test.

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