In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one form of assisted reproductive technology that is used to help women get pregnant. Basically, the sperm and the egg are removed from the bodies of the parents and the egg is fertilized in a lab. After fertilization, the eggs are placed in the uterus.
Ovulation is usually induced through the use of injectable fertility drugs. Your partner will give you the injections at home. The staff at the fertility clinic will teach you and your partner how to do the injections correctly. Your hormone levels will be monitored with blood tests. The development of the egg follicles will be monitored with ultrasounds.
When the eggs have ripened, they will be retrieved and fertilized in a lab with the sperm. A thin catheter is used with ultrasound to find and retrieve the fertilized eggs. If you have more than you need for the current cycle, the embryos can be frozen for use in a future cycle.
Fertilization takes a few days. After fertilization, the embryos will be transferred into the uterus. You will need to wait about two weeks to find out if the procedure was effective. This is often the most emotionally difficult part of the process. A blood test is done to detect pregnancy.
It often takes up to three attempts for success with this procedure. IVF is very expensive and is generally not covered by insurance. In some cases, the drugs may be covered. Often they are not. The drugs can cost a couple thousand dollars per cycle.
This method is often used when other methods have failed. IVF is used if the fallopian tubes are blocked, for severe endometriosis and when abnormalities of the uterus are present. In some cases, this method is used for male factor infertility. IVF may be used for unexplained infertility when other measures have not been successful.