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What You Need to Know About In Vitro Fertilization

03/29/2021

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If you are struggling with infertility, you are not alone. About 12 percent of women ages 18 to 44 in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year or longer of trying, and there are several causes of infertility in both men and women.

At INTEGRIS Bennett Fertility, we offer several services to help you get pregnant, including artificial insemination, embryo transfer, freezing of embryos or sperm, genetic testing and in vitro fertilization (IVF). 

 

What is in vitro fertilization?

In vitro fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology in which eggs are surgically retrieved, fertilized by sperm in a laboratory and implanted into the uterus via a medical procedure. Success rates of IVF can vary depending on your age and reason for infertility. However, the CDC recently found that IVF success rates are increasing in every age group as techniques are refined. 

The first IVF birth took place in England in 1978. Since then, it has become an integral part of infertility treatment — one that we have proudly offered since 1985 with consistently high success rates.

In vitro fertilization can be a good option for couples with any of the following infertility diagnoses.

  • Blockage or absence of fallopian tubes
  • Sperm abnormalities
  • Severe endometriosis or pelvic scarring
  • Unexplained infertility
  • Potential for future genetic abnormalities or habitual miscarriages

However, IVF is not recommended for patients with serious medical illnesses or in cases where pregnancy could be dangerous. Fibroid tumors, ovarian dysfunction, abnormal hormone levels and uterine abnormalities may lower your chances of pregnancy with IVF. 

 

How does in vitro fertilization work?

One cycle of in vitro fertilization is typically a seven-week process, including ovarian suppression, ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval and embryo transfer. 

IVF Weeks One to Five

The first five weeks of the IVF cycle are dedicated to ovarian suppression via oral contraceptives. This helps to optimize the chances of uniform follicle growth and improves the ovarian response during stimulation which can result in better egg recovery. 

IVF Week Six

During the sixth week of the IVF cycle, you will have daily injections to prompt ovarian stimulation. You and your partner will learn how to use injectable fertility medications safely and easily at home. Some people experience fullness in the ovaries or skin reactions, but side effects generally tend to be minimal. During this time, you will likely have several appointments for ultrasounds and monitoring your blood hormone levels.

IVF Week Seven

During the seventh week, you will have a surgical egg retrieval. The procedure takes 30-45 minutes under intravenous sedation. A needle is inserted vaginally into the ovaries and follicular fluid containing eggs is removed. A sperm sample is collected during this time. Several hours later, the sperm and eggs are combined in a lab where they are incubated for five days. 

Following your egg retrieval, you will start taking progesterone to help a healthy pregnancy develop. Within five days, the embryos will be transferred to your uterus in a short procedure that requires no anesthesia. 

IVF Week Nine

After two weeks, we will ask you to take a blood pregnancy test to determine if the IVF cycle was successful. You will typically receive a follow-up test and obstetric ultrasound to confirm your pregnancy.

 

What are the risks of in vitro fertilization?

It’s important to talk to your doctor before choosing an infertility treatment plan. There are risks associated with any treatment, and you should be aware of potential risks before getting started. IVF is associated with the following risks.

  • Surgical risks such as bleeding, infection, injury to vital organs or anesthesia complications are uncommon.
  • Less than 5 percent of patients will have some degree of hyperstimulation syndrome, a condition in which the ovaries enlarge and produce excess fluid in the abdomen.
  • Nausea, vomiting, breathing difficulties, abdominal swelling and weight gain may result. Approximately one percent of patients undergoing IVF will be hospitalized with this  condition, usually for several days of observation, IV fluids and occasionally drainage of excess abdominal fluid
  • Twins occur in less than 10 percent of IVF pregnancies.
  • During the IVF cycle, common adverse effects are abdominal tenderness, cramps, emotional changes and discomfort at the injection sites.

 

If you are struggling with infertility, contact INTEGRIS Bennett Fertility to schedule an appointment and learn more about your options for starting a family. For more healthy living tips for the whole family, visit our On Your Health blog

 

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