In Vitro Fertilization(IVF), is a procedure in which a woman’s eggs are combined with a man’s sperm inside of a laboratory dish along with a special culture that allows them to survive outside the woman’s body. The dish is kept in an incubator and closely monitored by lab staff to watch for fertilization and cell division to occur. Once the eggs have developed into embryos, they can be transferred back into the woman’s body. This process has helped thousands of couples conceive children who otherwise may not have been able to, yet many are still unaware what IVF is, and how it works. In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about In Vitro Fertilization.
IVF has a long history leading up to the first successful human baby being born in 1978 in England. You may be surprised to know that research on this subject goes back to the early 20th century, most notably funded by the Rockefeller Foundation through the Committee for Research in Problems of Sex. During the initial trials of IVF, there was quite a heated debate about the subject in the United States, so research and subsequent live births were well behind the UK, with the first successful human test-tube baby born in 1981 in Virginia. If you would like more information, there is a very detailed description of the history of IVF on PBS.
Why Have IVF
There are many conditions and treatments associated with infertility, and IVF is only one of those treatments. In fact, IVF is usually not the first treatment option for infertile couples- other options may include IUI or fertility medications. Your fertility doctor may recommend IVF if you suffer from:
- Uterus Issues
- Low Sperm Count for Males
- Damaged or Blocked Fallopian Tubes
- Ovulation Problems
These are just a few of the reasons you may need IVF- only your fertility doctor can tell your for sure.
What to do if you think you need IVF
If you have been trying to get pregnant on your own and are concerned you may have fertility problems, your first step should be to visit an IVF Doctor in your area. A simple search will probably provide several options in your area if you live in an urban area, otherwise check neighboring urban areas if there are none in your town. If you’re around Scottsdale, AZ IVF Phoenix is a great fertility clinic that comes highly recommended.
IVF What to Expect
IVF usually begins with your doctor giving you fertility medication at the start of your cycle which is meant to stimulate your ovaries to produce several mature eggs for fertilization. Your doctor will ask you in for another visit, where she will inspect your eggs to make sure they are mature before retrieving them for fertilization.
During this process, you may be sedated or given local anesthesia. Eggs are removed from ovaries by inserting a thin needle through the back of the vagina. Your doctor will gently suck the eggs into the test tube. You may be given pain medication after this to relieve discomfort.
Your partner will provide a sperm sample the day of the procedure, which will be used to fertilize your eggs. Your partner’s sperm and your eggs will then be placed inside a lab dish and watched closely for several days. These may develop into embryos, which can then be transferred into your uterus. To transfer the embryos, your doctor will insert a thin catheter through your cervix and into your uterus. After the embryo has been transferred, you must rest for several hours. You will know within a couple of weeks whether this treatment was successful or not.