How Does IVF Work?

What Is IVF?

The concept of in vitro fertilization is to optimize human reproduction by making it more efficient. IVF takes many eggs and, during a 3-5 day culture process, the eggs are fertilized.  One or more of the fertilized eggs is then transferred into the uterus. By removing the eggs from the ovaries, fertilizing them outside of the body, and then transferring the embryo or embryos back into the womb, the net effect is that of compressing many months of attempting to conceive into one.

Fertility is improved for couples who have been diagnosed as infertile. Those with male infertility problems such a sperm defects which affect fertilization or female issues with egg production or delivery to the tube or uterus, bypass the problem by direct implantation of the fertilized egg into the uterus by IVF.

How The IVF Process Works

The process of in vitro fertilization involves the forced production of follicles and eggs through ovulatory stimulation that will provide multiple follicles and eggs rather than just one, as is the case in a normal menstrual cycle. The eggs are removed from the ovaries when they are ready, which means that any problems with transporting the eggs in the tubes are avoided. By using select sperm and eggs and carefully culturing them in a lab, any problems that might be encountered in the natural process are eliminated. After culturing the embryos for several days, the best of the fertilized eggs are chosen for implantation. This selection improves the chances of a successful conception. The embryos are transferred to the ideal location within the uterus, which means that any risk involved with tubal transport is bypassed.

Calculating Success

As women age, the number of eggs available for collection diminishes. The quality of the eggs weakens as well, which often means a lower rate of implantation of the embryo that has been transferred. Miscarriage risk also rises in the case of advanced age. One of the ways this is addressed is by employing Day 5 Blasts, which means that transfers are done on the third day and again on the fifth day. A rate of implantation is then calculated. This is defined as the percentage of embryos that were transferred and developed to the point of a documented fetal heartbeat. If two embryos are transferred and only one heartbeat is detected, then the rate of implantation is 50 percent. If two heartbeats are detected, then the rate is 100 percent. These rates are important to determine success rates and chances of multiple births so the couple is informed of what to expect.

When choosing a fertility clinic for IVF, a couple is wise to check out the success rates of the clinic. The success rates for all reputable fertility clinics are posted and available on the internet.


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