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Houston Fertility Journal

The Complete IVF Process: A Beginner’s Guide of What You Need To Know

[fa icon="calendar"] Oct 25, 2016 10:00:00 AM / by Center of Reproductive Medicine   

Center of Reproductive Medicine

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If you have found yourself in the position of needing assistance conceiving a child, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is most certainly something worth considering. IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. If you connect yourself with a superb fertility clinic your chances of getting pregnant are fairly high. With the most up to date science on your side, you have almost as high of a probability getting pregnant using IVF as those do with healthy functioning reproductive systems.

Why Begin the IVF Journey

Your difficulty conceiving is most likely due to an infertility issue or a condition inherited genetically. The most common conditions resulting in infertility are:

Fallopian Tube Obstruction.

If the fallopian tubes are damaged or blocked it makes it nearly impossible for the egg to undergo fertilization. In the event the egg is fertilized, the embryo will most likely not succeed traveling in its journey to the uterus.

Low Ovulation.

Ovulation disorders prevent the presence of eggs available for a possible fertilization to occur.

Premature Ovarian Failure.

Premature ovarian failure (POF) is also known as early menopause. This occurs when normal ovarian function ceases before the age of 40. As a result, the production of estrogen and eggs are immensely reduced.

Endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition where uterine tissue grows on the outside of the uterus itself, affecting the function of all of the reproductive organs.

Uterine Fibroids.

Fibroids found on the uterus are benign tumors that can stunt the process of fertilization.

Unhealthy Sperm.

If the sperm contains a low sperm count, weak mobility, or is abnormal in shape or size, fertilization is incredibly difficult to achieve.

Genetic Disorders.

If you are aware of you or your partner having a history of a genetic disorder in the family, IVF offers the option of undergoing preimplantation genetic diagnosis before the embryo is transferred into the uterus. In this process, the embryo is screened for the existence of any genetic problems, and if traces are found, those embryos will not be used.

Women above the age of 40 have also had success with IVF and may consider it as a best option in terms of assisted reproduction.

The IVF Process

First, a specialist will examine your hormone levels and ovaries to see if they are producing eggs. Many women take hormones initially, at the recommendation of their doctors, to stimulate the ovaries’ egg production to help increase the chances of conception.

The next step will be the egg retrieval. This is done by a transvaginal ultrasound aspiration, where a thin needle is used to pass through the upper vaginal wall. The fluid is then removed from the follicles identified by the ultrasound and the egg is immediately isolated. If the doctors are unable to reach your ovaries through the transvaginal ultrasound, they can make a small incision near the navel and insert a tiny viewing instrument to guide the needle. During the egg retrieval process you will be given pain medication and sedated to keep you from experiencing any strong discomfort. Once retrieved, the eggs are placed in a culture dish with nutritive liquid and transferred into an incubator.

The eggs will then be fertilized with the sperm from your partner or a donor sperm. Doctors are able to identify which sperm is most active, and those will be the ones used, sometimes being injected directly into the egg. Together they are placed into the incubator to produce an embryo. This is done for each egg.

Lastly, the embryos will be examined and the healthiest will be selected to be transferred into the uterus. To carry out the transfer, the embryos will travel through a catheter (a long plastic tube) placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity.

Risks To Be Aware Of

As with any invasive medical procedure, there are risks to your health that you will want to consider when deciding if IVF is right for you.

  • Women who receive IVF treatment have about the same risk of miscarriage as those who conceive naturally.
  • It is possible that use of frozen embryos may slightly increase this risk. There is a 2-5% chance of ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. In this case the pregnancy will cease to fully form.
  • The use of fertility drugs to induce ovulation does create the risk of ovarian hyper stimulation, causing the ovaries to swell and ache. Severe cases of this, however, are quite rare.
  • There is a possibility of complications occurring during the egg retrieval process such as bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowel. Your doctors should be keeping a close eye for any signs of the existence of such things.
  • IVF increases the chances of multiple births if you choose to have more than one embryo implanted in the uterus -- this may result in early labor and a lower birth weight.
  • Miscarriage and birth defects can occur, but they have not been proven to be any more common in IVF than in a naturally created pregnancy.

Your maternal age, embryo status, reproductive history, and cause of infertility will be what defines how successful your IVF treatment is. Talk with your doctor about any and all of these factors that apply to you.

Your fertility specialist should be someone you feel you can depend on to give you the best advice pertaining to your unique situation. Be sure to ask any questions you may have so you can be sure you are taking all the steps necessary for your health and the health of your pregnancy.

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Topics: Houston IVF Specialists, Treatment, Reproductive Specialist

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