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IVF treatment The process of IVF

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a complex procedure with several stages, from the stimulation and harvesting of your eggs to the successful fertilization of the eggs, development of embryos, and transfer of the embryos into the womb for implantation. Undergoing IVF can be a stressful and time-consuming undertaking, but knowing in advance how the procedure works and what you can expect at each stage can reduce anxiety and help you and your partner cope.

Q: What happens first?
A: To optimize the chances of success with IVF, more than one egg at a time is removed for fertilization. Normally, your body produces one egg each month. In IVF, drugs, such as clomiphene and hMG (human menopausal gonadotrophin) may be used to stimulate your ovaries to produce several eggs. While you are undergoing this treatment, you will need to visit your clinic frequently in order to monitor the development of the eggs. Once it is thought that the eggs are mature, you will be given a blood test to measure your levels of estrogen, which is released around ovulation.
Q: What happens next?
A: Once your follicles are ready for ovulation, your eggs will be collected at the clinic using ultrasound or laparoscopy to guide a probe. Once the eggs have been collected, they will be mixed with your partner's sperm in a petri dish in a laboratory ready for fertilization.

Your partner will need to produce some sperm on the same day as the egg collection. For sperm collection, ask the staff members at your clinic for instructions regarding timing and specimen collection.

Q: What happens in the laboratory?
A: Once the eggs and the sperm have been mixed, they are placed in the laboratory and monitored closely for the next few days. They will first be inspected around 18 hours later to see how many of the eggs have been fertilized and the clinic will usually pass this information on to you the day after the procedure. It's quite common for not all of the eggs to be fertilized and for only two or three to develop into embryos. The fertilized eggs are incubated in the laboratory over the next couple of days and their progress measured. The laboratory technician watches cell division under a microscope, waiting for the eggs to divide into two or more cells on their journey to becoming a blastocyst. If one or more fertilized eggs develop in the laboratory, you will be called back in for the embryo transfer. This is done by injecting eggs through a catheter into the uterus. No more than two eggs will be transferred and you will have the option to freeze any remaining embryos.
IVF procedures
Mature eggs:

These are usually retrieved through the vagina with an ultrasound-guided needle.

Fertilized eggs:

These are injected into the uterus through a hollow tube inserted through the vagina.

How eggs are fertilized
  1. Egg removal:

    Your ripe eggs are removed in the clinic in a room similar to an operating room. You will usually be given a light anesthetic and the doctor will use ultrasound guidance to collect your eggs with a probe.

  2. Mixing the eggs and sperm:

    Once your mature eggs have been removed successfully, they will be mixed with your partner's recently produced sperm in a special liquid in a petri dish ready for fertilization. Any fertilized eggs will be monitored closely.

  3. Monitoring the eggs:

    Over the next two to three days, the laboratory technician will keep a close eye on the development of the eggs. If one or more eggs starts cell division, you will be called back to have the developing eggs transferred into your uterus.

  4. Embryo transfer to the womb:

    In a procedure somewhat like a pap smear that does not require sedation, the fertilized eggs will be carefully transferred into the uterus through a catheter using ultrasound for guidance.

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