IVF requires ovarian stimulation, monitoring of egg development, egg retrieval, fertilization and growth of the eggs within a laboratory setting, and embryo transfer to the uterine cavity.
Getting Ready: The first step is to prepare the ovaries for stimulation with fertility medications. This is usually accomplished with a combination of medications such as oral contraceptive pills and/or Lupron (leuprolide acetate). This helps with the timing of your cycle and promotes simultaneous development in the potential group of eggs.
Ovarian Stimulation: Also known as controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, this step is designed to facilitate the development of multiple mature follicles which contain the eggs. This is accomplished with injectable fertility medications and your progress will be followed with ultrasound evaluation and measurement of your estrogen levels.
Ultrasound directed follicular aspiration (UDFA): Aspiration or removal of your eggs is performed under anesthesia so there is no discomfort during the procedure. Once your procedure is complete we can usually tell you or your partner how many eggs were obtained before you leave the hospital.
Fertilization and Embryo Growth: Your eggs are then fertilized with conventional insemination or ICSI several hours after the eggs are retrieved. The next day, our embryologists will evaluate each egg for evidence of fertilization. If fertilized, the eggs are now called embryos. Over the next few days, the embryos grow and divide until 5 days after the UDFA. At this point, the embryos are comprised of several hundred cells known as a blastocyst.
Embryo Transfer: Using a narrow and flexible catheter, we return your embryo(s) carefully into your uterus. No anesthesia is necessary for the embryo transfer although many patients take am oral medication that may help them relax.
Embryo Freezing: If you have surplus embryos after the transfer, they will be evaluated and considered for cryopreservation (freezing of the embryos). This allows you to achieve additional pregnancies in future frozen embryo transfer cycles without repeating the entire IVF process.