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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)


What is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

In Vitro Fertilization In IVF, eggs are removed from the woman's ovaries and mixed with the man's sperm in a dish in a laboratory. Once the egg have been fertilized with the sperm, they are implanted in the women's uterus

What does In Vitro mean?

'In vitro' is a Latin term literally meaning 'in glass'. It refers to the glass container in the laboratory where fertilization takes place. The combination of the egg and sperm outside the body is an in vitro procedure.

How is the female prepared?

The female is given fertility drugs to help stimulate the ovary. This helps develop several mature eggs which are required for fertilization.

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Do I have to take drugs?

One may choose not to elect the drugs, but that will significantly decrease the odds of developing additional eggs. You will be closely monitored while you are on these drugs as women respond to them in different ways. Some women may complain of flushing and headaches.

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When are the eggs retrieved?

You will be closely monitored by following your temperature and the status of your hormones. An ultrasound will be done 3-6 days prior to ovulation to ensure that your eggs are ready to be retrieved.

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How much time does the entire procedure require?

Each cycle of IVF takes four to six weeks to complete. The process of IVF requires that both you and your partner can expect to spend about half a day at the clinic for the egg retrieval and fertilization procedures. The female partner has to return in a few days for the embryos to be transferred to the uterus.

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How are the eggs retrieved?

Egg retrieval requires an anesthetic. An ultrasound is done and the eggs are identified. With a fine needle, the eggs are retrieved under ultrasound guidance. The entire procedure takes about 15-30 minutes and there is minimal pain afterwards.

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What happens to the eggs?

Your partner's sperm is combined with your eggs in a dish containing a special nutrient medium, which is then cultured in an incubator to fertilize. After about 48 hours, the embryo (fertilized eggs) is then transferred to the uterus for implantation.

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When is the embryo transferred to the uterus?

The embryos are carefully transferred to the uterus under sterile conditions. The embryos are placed in the uterus with a fine tube. To avoid the risk of multiple pregnancy physicians never implant more than 2-3 embryos. Any extra embryos are frozen for future use in case the present attempt at conceiving is not successful.

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Is there an age limit to IVF?

There are no strict age limits but the protocol is best for women around the ages of 35-45. The older a woman is, the less chance there is of conceiving

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When does one know if the IVF is successful?

If the implantation is successful and the embryo implants in the uterine wall, then within 10-14 days, the pregnancy test will be positive. If the pregnancy test is negative 2 weeks after implantation, the procedure has failed.

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What is risk of multiple births?

The risks of multiple births is always a concern and can also affect the health of the babies which have conceived. Data suggest that about 10-25% of females, who have a successful IVF pregnancy, will have twins. The risks of multiple births are increased with the number of embryos implanted. In the general population the chance of having twins is about 1 in 90.

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What is the success rate?

Unfortunately, despite all the hype and glamour of IVF, the procedure is still a "HIT and MISS" situation. No one can predict if pregnancy will occur. The outcomes are dependent on numerous factors. All data indicate that the younger the female, the greater the chance of success. Unbiased data indicate that the chance of success is about 10-20% and in most cases less.

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Who else can use IVF?

IVF is a treatment option for women with blocked, damaged or absent fallopian tubes.

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What are side effects or complications of IVF?

IVF treatments increase a woman's risk of ectopic pregnancy- in this case the embryo implants not in the uterus but in the fallopian tubes.

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Is IVF associated with birth defects?

All the data available indicate that IVF is safe and not associated with birth defects. However, long-term effects of IVF remain to be determined.

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Is IVF covered by insurance companies?

Unless your health insurance policy provides infertility coverage it is unlikely that IVF coverage is provided. The majority of insurance policies do not cover IVF. If, however, if IVF is combined with other diagnostic surgical procedures, insurance carriers may provide some coverage. For infertility alone, most insurance policies will not provide coverage. And please ask the cost of the procedure as they are not cheap.

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In Vitro Fertilization Related Articles

By FertilityProRegistry Staff
Updated: April 27, 2007

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