In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
What is IVF?
In-vitro fertilization (IVF), one of the best-known treatments for infertility, is a process involving four main steps: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization and cell division, and embryo transfer.
Although it was originally designed for treatment of women with tubal disease, IVF helps couples, including ones who have not experienced success with other infertility treatments, overcome various types of infertility. IVF is also an option for same-sex couples wanting to build a family, as well as for single women who choose to have a baby without a partner.
How Does IVF Work?
The in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure at Houston Fertility Institute involves hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to mature eggs, which are then retrieved through aspiration. Fertilization of the eggs takes place in our IVF laboratory in Houston. The resulting embryos are nourished in an incubator and, at a predetermined stage of development, transferred into the uterus to continue normal fetal growth.
IVF is often a highly effective solution for both female and male factor infertility, as well as for LGBT family building. For exceptional in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment, you can trust the doctors and staff of Houston Fertility Institute, who maintain exceptionally high success rates through a combination of advanced knowledge and state-of-the-art treatments.
IVF Candidates – Who is a Good Candidate for IVF Treatment?
IVF candidates may include those who have:
- Blocked fallopian tubes
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Cervical mucus problems
- Male factor infertility
- Unexplained infertility
- Genetic diseases (that can be screened with PGD genetic testing)
- Same sex couples
- Single women
The IVF Process Explained, Step by Step
A typical IVF cycle at Houston Fertility Institute involves four main stages, which a physician will explain in detail to you. In general, the IVF process involves ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, fertilization and cell division, and embryo transfer. Learn more about each step below:
Stage One: Ovarian Stimulation
Ovarian stimulation for IVF, also referred to as controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, is designed to stimulate the maturation of ovarian follicles, which contain an egg that they release during ovulation. Ovarian stimulation involves the use of fertility medications that promote the simultaneous maturation of multiple follicles. During the ovarian stimulation stage, the woman’s progress is monitored with hormone testing and ultrasound.
Stage Two: Egg Retrieval
Before the eggs can be retrieved from their follicles, human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a fertility medication that acts to stimulate ovulation, must be administered. This is also referred to as a “trigger shot.” Approximately 36 hours after the “trigger shot”, the eggs can be harvested using an ultrasound-guided aspiration technique. Some patients ask if egg retrieval for IVF is painful. The procedure is performed under anesthesia, so there is no discomfort. You may experience mild cramping afterward, so a prescription for pain medication can be provided.
Stage Three: Fertilization and Cell Division
The eggs are then fertilized by sperm, taken from either the male partner or a donor, that has been analyzed and specially prepared. With couples who are undergoing IVF at least partly because of male factor infertility, the chances of fertilization may be increased by using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), during which an individual sperm is injected into each individual egg.
The fertilized eggs are called embryos. Starting as a single cell, the embryo undergoes rapid cell division. By the fifth day, the embryo has approximately 100 cells. Fifth-day embryos are known as blastocysts. Preimplantation genetic screening / diagnosis (PGS / PGD) may be performed on one or two cells taken from the embryos for couples who carry a genetic disorder. This test allows for the transfer of only those embryos which are the healthiest.
Stage Four: Embryo Transfer
You and your physician can decide what transfer option for you will yield the best success rate according to your personalized plan. Typically, we do either a blastocyst transfer or a frozen transfer a few weeks later. The procedure would be very similar. During transfer, the embryos are passed through a slim catheter into the uterus.