How In Vitro Fertilization Work?

There are several assisted reproductive technologies that infertile couples can choose from. One of the most utilized methods is in vitro fertilization (IVF). As a matter of fact, this method accounts for over 95% of all assisted reproductive technology procedures. If you are not familiar with IVF, then read on. This article gives you an overview of what this procedure is.

What is IVF?

IVF is a process that involves the fertilization of egg cells by sperm cells outside the womb, in vitro ("in glass" in Latin). It is performed when other assisted reproductive technology methods to treat infertility have failed.

IVF involves controlling the ovulatory process hormonally – removing ova from the ovaries and then allowing sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium. Then the fertilized egg is transferred to the woman’s uterus to establish a successful pregnancy.

How does the procedure take place?

This is how IVF takes place: The woman receives certain drugs (hormones) in order to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. A needle is then inserted through the vagina into the ovary to remove the fluid that contains eggs.

The woman’s partner provides a semen sample, from which the sperm cells are separated. The active sperm and the eggs are then combined in the lab dish (in vitro fertilization).

After 18 hours, one can now determine whether the eggs have been fertilized and whether they have begun to develop as embryos. The fertilized eggs are incubated and then observed for the next three days or so.

The embryos are then transferred into the uterus through the cervix using a catheter. The woman receives some kind of hormones over the next two weeks. If the implantation works, then the woman finally gets pregnant.

How successful is the IVF procedure?

The chances of becoming pregnant using the IVF procedure depend on the age of the woman. The success rate is around 37% among women not older than 35 years, about 28% for women aged 36-39 years, and 13% in women 40-44 years. However, pregnancy in those older than 44 years is very rare.

Is IVF safe?

Many studies have suggested that IVF is generally safe. A study of almost 1,000 children conceived through IVF in five European countries found that they were as equally healthy as those conceived naturally.

On the downside, a number of studies have found that children conceived through assisted reproductive technologies are at higher risks (albeit slightly) of genetic disorders compared to children conceived naturally.

More about IVF

One cycle of IVF costs around $12,400. Women not older than 35 years who have no problems with the sperm of their partners may try this procedure.

In general, in women who have undergone IVF in establishing a live birth, approximately 63% are single babies, 32% are twins, and 5% are triplets or more.

Also, a woman having IVF may not have to undergo surgery on the fallopian tubes. The IVF technique is estimate to have reduced fallopian tube surgeries by 50%.