If you have been following our fertility journey, you know that we were close to moving forward with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Although we ended up choosing a different path, it doesn’t mean IVF is not a viable option for you.
In this blog post, I will explain what IVF is, the typical process, success rates, and potential risks and considerations.
What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a well-known medical procedure where eggs are fertilized outside the woman’s body, in a laboratory setting. IVF has helped couples struggling to conceive since the late 1970s. Since then, IVF techniques and technologies have evolved and improved.
The IVF procedure involves the following steps:
- Ovarian Stimulation: To increase the chances of a successful IVF cycle, the woman receives fertility medications to stimulate her ovaries to produce multiple eggs instead of the usual one per menstrual cycle. Regular monitoring through ultrasound and hormone tests helps determine the appropriate time for egg retrieval.
- Egg Retrieval: Under sedation or anesthesia, a fertility specialist retrieves the mature eggs from the woman’s ovaries using a thin needle guided by ultrasound imaging. The procedure typically takes around 20 minutes.
- Sperm Collection: At the same time as egg retrieval, the male partner provides a sperm sample through ejaculation. If needed, sperm can also be retrieved from a sperm donor.
- Fertilization: The collected eggs and sperm are combined in a laboratory dish. The sperm is added to the eggs, and the dish is monitored to observe fertilization and formation of embryos.
- Embryo Culture: The resulting embryos are carefully monitored and cultured in a laboratory for several days. During this period, the fertility specialist evaluates their quality and development.
- Embryo Transfer: The healthiest and most viable embryos are selected for transfer into the woman’s uterus. This procedure is usually painless and does not require anesthesia.
- Pregnancy: After the embryo transfer, the woman waits for about two weeks to undergo a pregnancy test. If successful, she will continue receiving hormonal support to help maintain the pregnancy.
Please note the abovementioned steps may differ from person to person. For example, one extra step that I did not list was genetic testing of the embryos. For some people, this may be an important step while for others, it may not matter.
What are the success rates of IVF?
The success rates of IVF depend on various factors, including the woman’s age, the cause of infertility, and the fertility clinic’s expertise. Generally, younger women have higher success rates due to better egg quality. According to recent statistics, the success rates can range from 1% to 50% per cycle.
Also, the CDC has an IVF success estimator. If you are considering IVF, you might be curious to know your potential success rate with IVF. I’ll link it here for you. I completed the background and history, diagnosis and plan, and it came back with the success rate our fertility specialist gave us.
I thought that was interesting!
Potential Risks and Considerations
While IVF has helped couples achieve their dreams of having a baby, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks and considerations:
- Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): Ovarian stimulation medications may cause OHSS, a condition in which the ovaries become swollen and painful. Close monitoring by healthcare professionals minimizes the risk and ensures early intervention, if necessary.
- Emotional and Financial Considerations: IVF can be emotionally and financially challenging. It’s important to have a support system in place and consider the costs involved, including medications, clinic fees, and additional procedures, if needed.
- Fertility Clinic: It is very important to choose a fertility clinic and doctor with a reputable IVF lab and outstanding success rates. Don’t hesitate to interview various doctors before choosing one. You’ll be surprised how different their approaches may be.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) has become a go-to solution for many couples wanting to start, or expand, their families. By understanding the intricacies of the IVF process, success rates, and potential risks involved, individuals can approach this option with informed decision-making with the guidance from their healthcare provider.
It’s important to remember that everyone has a unique story. Whether you’re just beginning to explore fertility treatments, or you’ve embarked on this path, remember that support, guidance, and faith are key ingredients throughout this process.
I hope this blog post served as an easy-to-digest explanation of IVF. If you have any questions, or would like to connect, feel free to email me at email@example.com or message me on Instagram. I am always happy to chat!
Ps. If you would like to learn about the approach we decided to move forward with, read this blog post.