If you’re considering in vitro fertilization (IVF) to build your family, you probably have a lot of questions. To help you navigate this journey with as little confusion and stress as possible, we address five common questions below.
1. How does IVF work?
If you choose to undergo IVF treatment, you’ll begin by taking medications to stimulate egg production. Eggs are then retrieved via a minor surgical procedure, in which an ultrasound guides a hollow needle through the pelvic cavity to capture the eggs. You’ll receive medication to relieve any discomfort.
The male’s sperm sample—whether from the intended father or a sperm donor—is then prepared for combining with the retrieved eggs, or insemination. This mixture, monitored closely, is stored in a lab to encourage fertilization. If the sperm being used is low in number or motility, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be administered. If fertilization occurs, the eggs are classified as embryos, which are transferred to your uterus using a catheter. From there, implantation typically takes place in about six to 10 days.
2. Who uses IVF?
Individuals and couples of all kinds turn to IVF for help in growing their families. Below are a few of the most common reasons people choose to undergo in vitro fertilization.
- Ovulation disorders
- Premature ovarian failure
- Genetic disorders
- Low sperm count or low sperm motility
- Removed fallopian tubes
- Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- Unexplained infertility
Individuals and couples—whether same-sex or opposite-sex—may also seek out IVF in tandem with a gestational carrier; in these cases, the embryos formed from the sperm sample and the intended mother’s eggs are implanted into the carrier’s uterus.
3. How long should I try to conceive before looking into IVF?
If you’re under the age of 35, the American Society for Reproductive Health recommends that you meet with a fertility specialist after trying to get pregnant for more than one year. For women over age 35, it’s recommended that you schedule an appointment after actively trying to conceive for six months.
Of course, if you want to meet with a specialist earlier than that, you have the option to do so. Women age 40 and up, for instance, may wish to see a doctor immediately after they decide they want to get pregnant so they have a fuller picture of the state of their fertility and can address any issues or questions as soon as possible.
4. How long does IVF take?
The process leading up to the actual egg retrieval typically takes about four to six weeks. Here’s a breakdown of the timing:
After deciding on IVF, you’ll typically speak with or visit your fertility specialist on the first day of your period, and then go in for blood work and an ultrasound two or three days later. Next, you may be prescribed birth control—usually for about two weeks—to reduce the risks of cysts, which can interfere with the treatment, and allow the doctor to control timing.
From there, you’re prescribed injectable medications to help increase the number of eggs you produce. This process usually spans about 10 to 12 days. Once eggs are fertilized, the embryos take about a week to form. It takes about 10 days after an embryo is transferred to the intended mother’s uterus to know whether she is pregnant.
5. What are the chances of success with IVF?
IVF success rates will vary depending on egg and sperm quality and quantity, age, and other factors, and will even vary clinic to clinic. (Be sure to ask specifically about success rates; the clinic should be able to provide you with concrete numbers.)
To learn more about IVF or start discussing your options, contact the team at Fertility Solutions today.