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In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility treatment that involves combining sperms and eggs outside the body in a laboratory. People opt for an IVF process to conceive when they encounter complications in their bodies that render them infertile. IVF is a form of ART (assisted reproductive technology) and is a complex process that involves several tests. Here’s the breakdown for you:
How Does IVF Work: 5 Steps in an IVF Process
In vitro fertilization can be broken down into the following steps:
1. Birth Control Pills of Estrogen
Before you begin the IVF process steps, you will be prescribed estrogen or birth control pills to stop the development of ovarian cysts and thereby control the timing of your menstrual cycles. Your menstrual cycles need to be controlled so that the doctors know how to maximize mature eggs during the egg retrieval process. Some might be prescribed both progesterone and estrogen while others will be given just estrogen.
2. Ovarian Stimulation
Normally, there will be a group of eggs coming from the ovaries each month, one of which matures into ovulation. During an IVF, injectable hormones make those group eggs ovulate fully and simultaneously. The frequency, dosage, and type of IVF injections or medications given to a patient will depend on person to person their ovarian stimulation.
Monitoring involves inspecting the response of the patient’s ovaries to medications by checking blood hormone levels and ultrasounds. Usually, the eggs are too small to be captured in an ultrasound but the number and size of the growing ovarian follicles. Most of the follicles that are greater than 14 mm contain a mature egg.
● Trigger Shot
The patient will be given a trigger shot exactly 36 hours before their egg retrieval process. This shit finalizes the maturation of the eggs to prepare for the egg retrieval process.
3. Egg Retrieval
During the egg retrieval process, mild sedation or medication will be given to reduce any discomfort. Here’s what is done in an egg retrieval process:
- The doctor will use a thin needle to penetrate the patient’s ovaries. The end of this needle will be connected to a suction device that will pull their eggs out of the follicles.
- The eggs will be placed in a dish that has a special solution which is then placed in an incubator.
The afternoon after the egg retrieval process, an embryologist will fertilize the mature eggs by injecting sperms into them, a procedure called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Immature eggs will be placed in a dish with nutrients and terms and if they mature (which they rarely do), they will be fertilized. If there is an exceeding number of eggs, they can be frozen for future purposes.
5. Embryo Development
Over the next 5 to 6 days, the embryos will develop by overcoming significant hurdles. The blastocyst stage is the most suitable if the embryo transfers to the uterus. On day 5 or 6 of fertilization, all embryos are suitable for transfer and they can be frozen.
6. Embryo Transfer
The last step of the IVF process is the transfer of the embryos which can be done in two methods:
- Frozen embryo transfer
- Fresh embryo transfer
Based on your unique situation, you can decide along with your doctor if you want to go for a frozen or fresh embryo transfer. They both follow the same transfer procedure.
In a fresh embryo transfer, the embryo will be inserted into the uterus between 3 to 7 days after the egg retrieval process.
In a frozen embryo transfer, the embryos will be frozen from donor eggs or a previous IVF cycle. They will be thawed and inserted into the uterus after giving the patient transdermal, vaginal, injectable, or oral hormones to prepare their uterus for accepting the embryo.
The entire process of embryo transfer takes about 10 minutes or less. Here’s the step by step method of this process:
- First, a speculum is placed inside the patient’s vagina.
- A thin catheter is inserted into the uterus through the cervix.
- On the other end of the catheter, a syringe is attached that contains the embryos (one or more).
- The embryos are injected through the catheter into the uterus.
The Bottom Line: How Does an IVF Process Work?
Once the embryo plants itself onto the lining of the uterus, pregnancy occurs. The doctor will use a blood test for pregnancy approximately 9 to 14 days after the embryo transfer. Several factors decide if you can have an IVF process done or not.
You need to get yourself a mammogram, Pap test, and uterine exam to make the right decisions. You will also be screened for a semen analysis, STDs, other infectious diseases, blood tests, ovarian reserve tests, genetic carrier tests, and uterine cavity evaluation.