Who needs IVF?
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a well-established, safe, and effective treatment option for infertility with over 140,000 IVF cycles reported each year in the US.
While there are many other ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies) treatment options available, IVF success rates are much higher than other options like Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and may shorten the time to a successful outcome in many cases.
Your Genesis physician may recommend IVF treatment for the following conditions:
- Advanced maternal age/Diminished ovarian reserve
- Absent or blocked fallopian tubes
- Male factor
- Unexplained infertility
- Genetic/Chromosomal factors
- Ovulatory dysfunction
What is IVF?
In a natural cycle, one egg is released each month from the ovary and picked up by the fallopian tube. Sperm, after entering the vagina by sexual intercourse, travel through the cervix and uterus and into the tube, where they may encounter the egg and cause fertilization. The fertilized egg, called an embryo, then travels through the tube into the uterus. In IVF, fertilization occurs outside of the body in a laboratory dish (in vitro). Mature eggs are removed from the ovaries and placed with specially prepared sperm. Several days later, the resulting embryos are transferred back directly into the uterus. In many cases, implantation of one or more of these embryos into the uterine lining will occur, resulting in pregnancy.
IVF can be done using the single egg that normally matures during a woman’s menstrual cycle. However, much better success rates are achieved by administering hormonal medications using a technique known as controlled ovarian hyperstimulation (COH). The hormonal medications that are used for COH are called gonadotropins, and they are known by the brand names Menopur®, Bravelle®, Follistim®, and Gonal F®. With COH, multiple eggs can be obtained with daily subcutaneous gonadotropin injections which are given to stimulate production of multiple oocytes (or eggs) rather than a single egg, increasing the likelihood that multiple embryos will be available. Injections and monitoring of the cycle takes an average of ten days. The response to medication and the maturation of eggs is monitored using blood tests and ultrasound. The success of the IVF cycle depends, in part, on the number of embryos available for transfer.
The process of egg retrieval is a short 30 minute procedure performed at our center. Anesthesia is administered to ensure patient comfort during this process. Doctors direct a needle into the follicles of the ovary, guided by an ultrasound probe, to retrieve the eggs. Upon retrieval, the eggs are immediately given to the embryologist in the adjacent laboratory. After each egg is identified, it is placed into a culture dish containing special nutrient medium where it is fertilized with sperm. Most women are able to return home an hour or so after the procedure.
On the appropriate day of embryo development, a Genesis physician transfers embryos directly into the uterus using a soft, thin plastic catheter that is passed through the cervix. The embryo transfer is a non-surgical procedure performed in our procedure room under ultrasound guidance.
If additional embryos are produced, they can be cryopreserved (frozen) for later use. Cryopreservation of embryos can increase the chance of achieving a pregnancy from a single egg retrieval, while avoiding the risks that may accompany the transfer of too many embryos at one time. Embryos that are cryopreserved are carefully thawed at a later date and transferred into the uterus. While some embryos may not survive thawing, there is no increased risk of congenital abnormalities when pregnancy does occur.