It can be hard to keep up with the latest infertility and assisted reproductive technology processes, surgical procedures, terms and definitions, especially if you are new to the world of infertility. Below is a description of the In vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment cycle process, as well as an explanation of common procedures performed and the terms and definitions that are routinely used.
Understanding the Steps in an IVF Treatment Cycle
If you need IVF to treat your infertility, your Reproductive Endocrinologist will provide you with information about your personalized treatment cycle. Here is a summary of the steps involved in an IVF treatment cycle.
- Ovarian stimulation – Your physician prescribes a course of drugs for you to take, to stimulate your ovaries, into hopefully producing a number of mature eggs.
- Monitoring of your drug response – To monitor the progress of your ovarian stimulation, it is common to undergo multiple vaginal ultrasounds and blood tests.
- Egg maturation – Two days before your eggs are due to be retrieved you have a hormone injection, which triggers maturation of the eggs.
- Egg retrieval – You receive a light general anesthetic for this simple, short procedure, and your doctor retrieves your eggs using an ultrasound-guided technique.
- Sperm collection – On the day of egg retrieval, your partner provides a sperm sample. If for some reason it is not possible for your partner to be present, other arrangements can be made.
- Fertilization – The embryologist uses a technique called ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), where they place one sperm into each egg to fertilize and early embryo development begins.
- Embryo transfer – Three to five days after egg retrieval, your doctor places one or two embryos in your uterus.
- Embryo freezing – If you have additional embryos suitable for use, they can be frozen and kept for future transfers.
- Pregnancy test – About two weeks after embryo transfer, a pregnancy test through blood work is performed. If the test is positive, your first pregnancy scan is performed two weeks later. If the test is negative, it is recommended you discuss additional treatment options with your physician.