When looking into your fertility options, you may want to know more about in vitro fertilization (IVF). After all, IVF is one of the most well-known fertility treatments. And because of a better understanding of infertility and advances in laboratory techniques, IVF has become more and more successful at helping people grow their families.
At The New York Fertility Center, our team led by Dr. Tony Tsai has helped many people find solutions to their fertility challenges. Although it’s well-known and fast becoming a first-line treatment for infertility, you may not know much about the IVF process.
Here, we present a beginner’s guide to IVF so you have a general idea of what to expect when you embark on this fertility journey.
Is IVF right for you?
IVF isn’t right for everyone, and it’s not usually the first fertility treatment we try. Before we move forward with IVF, we perform an evaluation to make sure it’s the right option for you.
We may recommend IVF as a first-line treatment for women over 40 struggling with infertility or for women with certain health conditions like an ovulation disorder or blocked fallopian tubes.
Sometimes, we move on to IVF if other less invasive treatments fail to produce positive results, such as ovulation stimulation or intrauterine insemination. IVF is also used for families with a gestational surrogate (a woman who carries and delivers your baby).
Stimulating the ovaries
The first step in the process is triggering the ovaries to produce more eggs. A woman’s body normally releases only one egg during each menstrual cycle. Fertilization happens when that one egg joins with one sperm as it travels down the fallopian tube, creating the embryo.
“In vitro” is a laboratory term that means outside of the body. For IVF, we fertilize the egg outside of the body to create the embryo.
We use medication to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs during your menstrual cycle. Having more eggs increases our chances of creating a healthy embryo that can lead to a successful pregnancy.
Once multiple eggs are mature, we perform a procedure to retrieve them from your ovaries. We use ultrasound-guided imaging and a special needle that allows us to aspirate the egg from the follicle (fluid-filled sac) in the ovary.
We give you medication for this procedure that helps you relax and reduces discomfort.
Fertilizing the eggs
Once we have the eggs, we take them to our lab and fertilize them with the parent’s sperm or donor sperm. When enough sperm is available, we release them onto the egg. We also can micro-inject a single sperm directly into an egg. The fertilized egg then forms into an embryo.
Transferring the embryo
About two to five days after we retrieve and fertilize your eggs, we implant the embryo into the uterus using a catheter. We provide a mild sedative for the embryo transfer to reduce discomfort and anxiety.
We may place more than one embryo into the uterus.
If successful, the embryo implants itself into the uterus about 10 days after the embryo transfer. Then, you meet with your OB/GYN who manages your pregnancy.
In vitro fertilization is a life-changing treatment for many patients. If you’re considering IVF, we can talk to you about the process and help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
To set up a consultation, call our office in the Flatiron District of Manhattan in New York City or our downtown Flushing office in Queens, New York. You can also book an appointment online today.