ZocdocAnswersHow does IVF work?

Question

How does IVF work?

My husband and I have been trying hard to get pregnant, have tried other fertility treatments, and are now talking about IVF. How exactly does IVF work, though? How does it compare to other fertility treatments in terms of risks and success rates?

Answer

IVF, or In Vitro Fertilization, is a complex process to attempt to aid couples who have been unable to become pregnant. This is the most sophisticated and advance of the assisted reproductive techonologies and therefore limited to the "last line." I encourage you to talk to your OB/GYN and/or reporoductive specialist for full information on the risks or benefits. In Vitro Fertilization means that fertilization (the process where the egg meets the sperm) is done "in vitro" (as opposed to in the body or "in vivo."). The process is complex but essentially: (1) the women is given hormones to induce the ovary to release a large number of eggs during the menstrual cycle (as opposed to just one or two). (2) The eggs are retrieved using a needle into the ovary. (3) In lab, (think in a petrie dish), the eggs and sperm donated by the biologic father are put together. (4) The fertilized eggs is allowed to grow for a few days. (5) The growing embryos are looked at under the microscope and a few of the most healthy are implanted into the women's uterus. (6) The women is monitored to see if any of the embryos "take hold." Data varies, but the percentage of people who do this who achieve a live birth is around 30%. There are risks to any procedure. I encourage you to talk to you doctor for more information.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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