What are the Five Stages of IVF
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one the most successful procedures used by fertility specialists to treat infertility.
It involves fertilizing an egg outside of the body and then implanting it into the woman’s womb.
Trying to get pregnant can be frustrating, but imagine what it would be like if you had trouble with fertility.
For some people, this is a reality. About 1 in 8 couples have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term.
The first thing to know about IVF is that different types of procedures perform similar goals: female factor infertility, male factor infertility, and unexplained infertility.
Each of these requires different steps and treatment schedules. However, the goal for all three is the same: implantation of a fertilized embryo into the uterus so that it can grow into a healthy baby.
What are the Stages Involved?
Here are the stages a patient needs to go through to complete an IVF treatment.
Treatment begins with hormone injections that prepare your ovaries to produce several mature eggs.
What you need to keep in mind here is that the medication is primarily supposed to help the body produce more eggs than it normally would.
This medication can cause side effects such as hot flushes, mood changes and bloat.
2. Egg Harvesting
The egg retrieval procedure is done under sedation and takes about 10 to 15 minutes. The doctor will insert a thin needle through the vaginal wall into the ovary to suck out the follicles.
Then, the fluid surrounding each mature follicle is injected with a medication called Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin (HCG) which induces egg maturation.
This procedure usually takes about 10 minutes per ovary. The eggs are then collected and sent for laboratory analysis and assessment.
3. Embryo Transfer
The next stage involves collecting eggs from your ovaries and fertilizing them in the laboratory. The fertilized eggs (embryos) grow into a clump of cells called a blastocyst.
This stage is also known as embryo transfer. If the embryos are suitable for implantation, you move to the next stage which is fertilization.
Once the eggs have been confirmed to be viable, several embryos are then placed into your uterus through the cervix with a thin catheter.
The embryos must attach to the lining of your uterus for about three days before doctors can check for pregnancy.
If there is no pregnancy after three tries, additional embryos can be created and transferred similarly.
The egg is released during ovulation. It contains genetic material from both parents. When it joins with sperm, it forms one cell that has genetic material from both parents.
This process can take longer in women older than 35 years of age.
The fertilized egg divides into multiple cells and starts growing into an embryo over the next few weeks.
Once it’s implanted in your uterus, you should be able to feel it when you press on your abdomen with your fingers or have an ultrasound done.
By about 10 to 11 weeks of pregnancy, all major body systems should be visible on ultrasound tests.
How Long Does the Process Take?
The time frame for IVF varies depending on your situation. The first step in the process, no matter how old you are or what the cause is, is to take fertility drugs to stimulate ovulation.
If you’ve had previous pregnancies and are over 35, that can take three to six months. Younger women who don’t have fertility problems often get pregnant after just one cycle of IVF treatment.
Once you begin taking medication to stimulate your ovaries, you’ll undergo frequent blood tests and ultrasounds to determine when you’re ovulating.
Depending on your situation and how ready your embryos are for transfer, embryo transfer may take place two weeks after you begin taking medication or as long as four weeks later.
The whole process takes about three months from the time you begin fertility medication until you have a positive pregnancy test.
Anyone who decides to go through IVF should know that the treatment is done in stages and it will take some time to get results.
Now that you know the stages involved and the time frame, there should be no room for disappointment.