In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization with embryo transfer (IVF-ET) is the most commonly used assisted reproductive technology service. It involves collecting a couple’s eggs and sperm and placing them together in a laboratory dish to fertilize outside of the body. The fertilized eggs are then transferred into the uterus, or womb, where implantation and embryo development may occur. The eggs are transferred by placing a small catheter directly into the uterus.
When is IVF-ET Used?
IVF-ET is used for women without functioning fallopian tubes since the fertilized eggs are placed directly into the uterus.
One of the benefits of using IVF-ET is that the physician will know whether the egg(s) have actually been fertilized by sperm. If fertilization fails, various changes can be made during a future attempt to create an embryo.
Four Stages of IVF-ET Procedure
With a normal menstrual cycle, a single egg develops each month. To have as many eggs as possible available for fertilization and transfer, you will be given a combination of medications to help the ovaries create several follicles. Follicles are the areas in the ovaries where eggs develop. Eventually, the follicles rupture, each releasing one egg.
You will receive injections of a medication that temporarily stops the production of hormones your body naturally makes to stimulate the ovaries. When blood tests confirm the drug has worked, you will begin a 10-12 day series of injections to achieve the growth of several follicles. We then monitor the follicle growth using blood tests and ultrasounds, and when the follicles reach the right size, you will receive an injection of hCG, a drug that helps the eggs mature.
Egg retrieval takes place about 36 hours after hCG is given. It is a minor surgical procedure that takes about 30 minutes and requires general anesthesia. A vaginal ultrasound probe guides your physician in placing a needle through the vaginal wall to extract the eggs from the follicles. The eggs are then incubated alone for four to five hours.
Prior to egg retrieval, a semen sample is collected from your partner. Using various laboratory techniques, several thousand of the strongest and most active sperm are added to each dish with the egg for potential insemination. The sperm and eggs are incubated at body temperature and checked for fertilization 16 to 18 hours later. Embryos are kept in the laboratory for 48-60 hours until they are ready to be placed in the uterus.
Two to five days after retrieval, the embryos are transferred into your uterus by a thin plastic tube. This procedure is quick and painless. Pregnancy testing is done about 14 days after egg retrieval.
When our patients undergo IVF, we carefully determine the optimal number of embryos for transfer. We choose quality to ensure the maximum chance of pregnancy and the lowest risk of multiple births. A process called cryopreservation can freeze any remaining embryos. Thawed embryos can be transferred at a later date. More than two-thirds of embryos usually survive this process.
Benefits of Embryo Cryopreservation
- Improves success rates and lowers the cost of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).
- Eliminates the need to repeat ovarian stimulation, egg recovery, and fertilization.
- Eggs can be transferred during a normal ovulatory cycle.
If you have questions about in vitro fertilization or embryo cryopreservation, please call us at (303) 321-7115 and request a free phone consultation with one of our doctors, or make an appointment to schedule an evaluation.