All about IVF

If you’re familiar with assisted reproductive technologies, you probably know a little bit about in vitro fertilization, or IVF. It’s a procedure that combines semen and a mature egg to make an embryo, which is implanted into the uterus through the vagina after administering several rounds of hormones in preparation.

Why use it?

Many couples use IVF because they’re having fertility issues, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, impaired sperm function, while others may turn to IVF as a primary option, depend on family configuration. If there’s a high risk that a child would be born with a genetic disorder, some couples choose to do IVF so that they can test the embryos for that disorder before pregnancy, known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. Women over 40 sometimes use IVF to increase their chances of becoming pregnant.

How long does it take?

A cycle of IVF typically takes two weeks. Preparation before that can often include oral contraceptives to regulate hormones, medication to prepare ovaries for stimulation, and blood tests, but the IVF cycle itself takes two weeks. During the two week IVF cycle, the ovaries are stimulated with hormone injections before the eggs are retrieved.

The eggs are retrieved 34-36 hours after the last ovarian stimulation hormone injection. Sperm are then retrieved from the partner or a donor, and the eggs and sperm are combined to create embryos. The embryo transfer into the uterus is usually done two to six days after the egg retrieval.

How much does it cost?

The costs of IVF depend on a few different things. A typical cycle of IVF might start at around $15,000, but that often just covers the procedure and the basic medications. If additional medication, genetic testing, assisted hatching, blastocyst transfer, sperm thawing, or multiple cycles are needed, the costs will increase, sometimes dramatically.

What are the risks?

Because of the high cost of IVF and the fact that pregnancy isn’t guaranteed, many people choose to have multiple embryos implanted to increase the chances of success. This is why cycles of IVF sometimes result in multiples.

According to the Mayo Clinic, other risks include premature delivery, low birth weight, ovarian hyperstimulation, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy.

How effective is it?

IVF is one of the most effective and most common forms of assisted reproductive technology. The rates of success are around 40%, though these vary based on maternal age, lifestyle, the cause of infertility, reproductive history, and other factors.

You should talk to your healthcare provider if you have more questions about IVF.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “In vitro fertilization (IVF).” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic. June 16, 2016. Web.
  • “IVF Costs.” Infertility Resources. Internet Health Resources. 2016. Web.
  • “In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) FAQs.” Genetics & IVF Institute. Genetics & IVF Institute. 2013. Web.
  • “Fertility Treatment FAQs.” USC Fertility. Keck School of Medicine of USC. 2016. Web.
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