The Five Stages of IVF

What are the Five Stages of IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of 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 requires different steps and treatment schedules. However, the goal for all three is the same: implanting 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.

1. Preparation

The preparation stage involves hormonal injections to stimulate the ovaries and may include other preparatory steps such as lifestyle adjustments and health assessments.

You need to remember here 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 flashes, 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.

Egg harvesting then involves retrieving eggs from the ovaries after stimulation, but HCG is administered before egg retrieval to trigger the final maturation of the eggs.

This procedure usually takes about 10 minutes per ovary. The eggs are then collected and sent for laboratory analysis and assessment.

3. Embryo Transfer

Embryo transfer is placing the already fertilized embryos into the uterus. 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.

4. Fertilization

Fertilization occurs in the laboratory when an egg and sperm are combined to create an embryo. The embryos must attach to the lining of your uterus for about three days before doctors can check for pregnancy.

The decision to create and transfer additional embryos after unsuccessful attempts depends on many factors, including the couple’s preferences, remaining embryos, and the advice of the fertility specialist. This process may involve further cycles of IVF, including egg retrieval and fertilization, rather than simply transferring existing embryos.

The egg is released during ovulation. It contains genetic material from both parents. When it joins with sperm, it forms one cell with genetic material from both parents.

This process can take longer in women older than 35 years of age.

5. Development

The fertilized egg divides into multiple cells and grows into an embryo over the next few weeks.

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. Success rates depend on many factors, including age, the cause of infertility, and specific details of the IVF protocol used.

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.

Final Thoughts

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 and time frame, there should be no room for disappointment.

IVF Grants in the U.S.

See Also

Does Medicaid Cover IVF

IVF Pregnancy Calculator

IVF Grants

Do IVF Babies Have More Problem

Current Version
December 30, 2021
Written By
Shubham Grover
March 29, 2024
Updated By
Franco Cuevas, MD

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