Sometimes, more specialized fertility treatments are needed to help a woman conceive. Depending on your situation, our doctors may recommend advanced treatments for specific situations such as in male infertility, low ovarian reserve, irregular ovulation, or anatomic problems such as tubal blockage or endometriosis. For patients without severe fertility factors but desire the higher success rates of IVF, it is not necessary to complete basic treatments prior to initiating an IVF cycle. In fact, many patients at HFI choose to skip directly to advanced treatments because of higher success rates.
In vitro fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a type of fertility treatment that is performed hundreds of thousands of times every year in the United States. The IVF process can be broken down into 4 main phases. The first phase begins with ovarian stimulation during which medications are used to stimulate the growth of multiple eggs for approximately 10 days, during which ultrasounds and bloodwork are performed to monitor the gradual growth of each egg. Once the eggs are mature, the patient takes a “trigger” injection to help each egg reach its final state of maturation. The second phase of the procedure is the egg retrieval, which is performed 2 days later after the final trigger injection. After the mature eggs have been brought to our IVF laboratory, sperm is added to fertilize each egg. The third phase of IVF is the process of growing embryos in our laboratory. During this phase, the growing embryos are carefully monitored and checked for appropriate growth and development. The final phase of an IVF cycle is preparation for an embryo transfer. At HFI, our doctors perform both fresh and frozen embryo transfers but typically will favor frozen embryo transfers for multiple reasons but mostly because patients who undergo frozen embryo transfers have, on average, higher success rates than fresh transfers. If you are planning to undergo IVF, our doctors will recommend a specific plan for you. Contact us and schedule your consultation today!
Frozen embryo transfer (FET)
Once embryos are frozen, patients conceive a pregnancy on their own timeline. Since most of our patients want to become pregnant as soon as possible, the majority frozen embryo transfers we perform occur the month immediately following ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. Some patients, however, may want to pursue a FET cycle either months or possibly even years later for personal reasons. The flexibility of modern day fertility treatments enables patients to grow their family based on their own timeline.
Patients are often happy to learn that the preparation for embryo transfer is very straightforward and offers a great deal of flexibility in timing. In fact, patients are usually able to select the specific day of their embryo transfer weeks or even months before the transfer is done. Once the transfer month begins, a combination of skin patches or pills are used to thicken the uterine lining over a 2-week period. A series of ultrasounds and blood tests are performed to ensure the uterine lining is developing normally and then a hormone called progesterone is given to prepare the lining to make the uterus “receptive” to pregnancy.
Additionally, it is very easy to transfer embryos from other facilities to HFI. Whether you are new to the Houston area or would like to transfer your care from another fertility specialist to HFI, we are happy to answer your questions and help you navigate this process; just call any of our offices and schedule your consultation today.
Many women feel that as they reach their 20s and 30s, they start to juggle multiple goals which may include education, career, personal goals and starting a family. While many goals can be achieved at any age, a woman’s ability to have children is very age dependent because a woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have in her life and gradual decreases in ovarian reserve make it more difficult for women to get pregnant later in life. To help women more easily plan their future, egg freezing (also known as oocyte cryopreservation) has emerged as a way to give women more options for her future fertility.
Historically, egg freezing was technically difficult because the amount of water inside a human egg made it physically challenging to freeze and thaw an egg without damaging the delicate structures inside. Newer techniques of cryopreservation have made it much easier to freeze and thaw eggs. While no technology is perfect and egg freezing is by no means a 100% guarantee for the future, egg freezing is one of the best ways to minimize the chance that a woman will struggle with infertility in the future.
Egg freezing is a process where a woman’s ovaries are stimulated with medication to grow multiple eggs (oocytes) all at once. These eggs are then removed during a procedure called an egg retrieval and then frozen to be used at a later time. Once a woman is ready to become pregnant, the eggs are thawed, fertilized with sperm, and then transferred into the uterus as embryos.
Since HFI is one of the few practices in the country with its own donor egg bank, we have become one of the most experienced industry leaders in egg freezing technique. To help patients better understand the process of egg freezing, we asked Dr. Jason Yeh, a Fertility Specialist the Director of Patient Education at Houston Fertility Institute, a few questions about how why egg freezing might be right for you.