The Phases Of The IVF Process
If you’re experiencing difficulties getting pregnant, IVF may be your one shot at parenthood. This procedure condenses several attempts at trying to conceive into a single, controlled menstrual cycle, thereby increasing your chances of getting pregnant. Thousands of couples around the world are now proud parents thanks to this medical miracle. If you’re thinking of getting IVF done, it’s important to know as much as you can about the procedure. Here is a rough idea of how you can get pregnant with the help of IVF.
Normally, the ovaries only release one egg a month, but women with infertility problems will need more than this to get pregnant. To increase the chances of a successful cycle, you will have to stimulate egg production with the help of fertility drugs. Fertility drugs will trigger the maturation of five or more eggs so that more embryos can be created and transferred into your womb. This part of the IVF cycle is called the ovarian stimulation phase. Ovarian stimulation lasts two weeks and involves daily injections of fertility drugs, which you will do yourself. A nurse at the fertility clinic will teach you how to deliver the shots.
This video takes you through the five phases of the IVF process from the point of view of both a couple going through the IVF process and doctors in the lab. The process begins with Follicle Stimulation Hormone injections and leads to phase five: pregnancy.
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During the last week of the ovarian stimulation phase, you will come to the clinic every other day so your doctor can monitor the growth of the follicles. Follicles are the sacs in the ovaries that contain an immature egg. As soon as the follicles are mature enough (which is determined by their size), you will be asked to take the trigger shot. This trigger shot will signal the ovaries to release the eggs. In about 36 hours, you will return to the clinic and have the eggs retrieved.
The egg retrieval is a minor surgical procedure where the mature eggs will be removed from the ovaries. This is what makes IVF such a popular form of assisted reproduction – it bypasses any problems with the fallopian tubes. You will be given anesthesia so that you remain unconscious throughout the egg retrieval. The procedure will not hurt, although you may feel some cramps similar to menstrual cramps afterwards. While the egg retrieval is happening, your partner will be in another room procuring a sperm sample.
The eggs will incubate for several hours before they are combined with the sperm. The fertilization process is quick and will happen once you and your partner are at home. The egg and sperm will be placed together in a plastic dish filled with a special culture medium. The dish will be placed in an incubator so the eggs will transform into embryos undisturbed.
In three or five days, you will return to the clinic for the final leg of the procedure – the embryo transfer. This will take only a few minutes. A catheter will be inserted through the vagina and cervix until the mouth is placed at the center of the uterus. The embryos will then be release into the womb where they will hopefully implant and grow into a baby.
Two week wait
You will be asked to wait two weeks before you can take a pregnancy test. It takes about a week for an embryo to implant itself and for the body to produce the hCG hormone, which is what pregnancy tests detect. Try not to get tempted into taking an early pregnancy test, or you could get inaccurate results. Just relax and try not to stress about the outcome of your cycle.
Diana Farrell is the author of the trademarked Full Embrace series of books on overcoming infertility. She holds a Masters Degree in Psychology through the University of San Francisco, as well as advanced training in a number of alternative therapies. Through her own journey overcoming infertility she uncovered a wealth of information about ways to increase a couple’s chances of getting pregnant with IVF. To find out about her program for IVF success, visit http://www.IVFSuccessProgram.com.
Image by Nina Matthews Photography
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