Now that you have decided to get IVF as a way of getting pregnant, you might have a lot of questions and concerns. One of those questions might be what to expect. The following article tells you the four steps or phases of assisted reproduction techniques like IVF.
The field of assisted reproduction comprises a number of recently developed treatments aimed at achieving pregnancy. Some of the treatments performed by our doctors in Chicago and Northwest Indiana include: in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intra fallopian transfer (GIFT), intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), assisted hatching, and blastocyst transfer.
These treatments require major effort and commitment from both the patient and the medical team (the laboratory director, the nurses, the physician, and our assistants). A thorough understanding of the program improves everyone’s chances of a successful outcome.
Four Phases of Assisted Reproduction
All of the various assisted reproduction treatments performed by Midwest Fertility Center include four phases:
In the month prior to the IVF hormone stimulation cycle, medications (usually including injections) are given to prepare your body for the stimulation drugs. In most cases the medications are given to suppress your body’s natural hormones so that the stimulation medications may be more precisely controlled.
Before starting your stimulation to begin egg production, we will test your hormone levels and perform an ultrasound. Should the results be favorable, the stimulation will be initiated. Stimulation is achieved by the administration of two shots each day of gonadotropins.
During the stimulation process you will require an ultrasound and a blood test at least every other day. When the ovaries are ready, you will receive an HCG injection. The egg retrieval process will take place 34 to 36 hours after the HCG shot. All other injectable medication is discontinued on the day of the HCG administration.
The egg retrieval procedure will be performed while you are under IV sedation with ultrasound guidance. A fresh sperm sample will be required to fertilize and subsequently incubate the oocytes (eggs).
Embryo Transfer and Post Transfer
The developing embryos will be transferred into the uterus when they have reached the appropriate developmental phase. In all treatments except for GIFT, embryo transfer is performed in a process that is similar to a routine pelvic exam.
After the transfer of the embryos, you may require an additional HCG shot. You will need nightly injections of progesterone. You will also be monitored with blood tests after the transfer to ensure that your body maintains adequate hormone levels. Ultrasounds may also be required to monitor ovarian size.