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What is the IVF Process?

You probably know that with in vitro fertilization (IVF), a woman’s eggs are fertilized outside her body in a lab. But what else is actually involved in the IVF process?

To understand more simply, the IVF process can be explained in five steps:

  1. Ovarian hyperstimulation: In the first step of the IVF process, you will be instructed to take fertility drugs to stimulate follicle growth in your ovaries. This will spur the production of multiple egg-containing follicles for your egg retrieval.
  2. Egg retrieval: Once your eggs are ready, they’ll be retrieved through an egg retrieval process. Your fertility doctor will use an ultrasound-guided needle to aspirate fluid from the follicles and suction out the eggs.
  3. In vitro fertilization: Your eggs with be fertilized with sperm in the lab. Your embryologist may use a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). With this procedure, one sperm is injected directly into the egg to fertilize it. If ICSI is not employed, both eggs and sperm will be placed in a dish with a neutral solution where the sperm will fertilize the eggs naturally.
  4. Uterine embryo transfer: Using ultrasound guidance and a tiny catheter, your fertility doctor will transfer the fertilized embryos to your uterus. The number of embryos transferred depends largely on your age, history of IVF success, and your lab's guidelines.
  5. Monitoring and follow up: Your fertility doctor will continue to monitor your blood levels to check the quality of your uterine lining. If you become pregnant, you will have an ultrasound two weeks after a positive pregnancy test.

Looking for more information on IVF? Check out this video below, where fertility doctor Mark Leondires, M.D., of RMA Connecticut explains how you can make the most out of the different IVF stages.

Click image to play.

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