The World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 6 people worldwide struggle with infertility. Understandably, infertility can be frustrating and heartbreaking, and if you’re one of those affected by infertility, know that fertility treatments can be a beacon of hope on your journey to parenthood.
Depending on the cause of your infertility, you have many options when it comes to fertility treatments. Here at Aurora OB/GYN, board-certified OB/GYN Karen Allsup, FACOG, MD, offers medication, surgery, intrauterine insemination, and in vitro fertilization (IVF) in our San Antonio, Texas, office.
In this blog post, let’s take a closer look at one fertility treatment in particular — IVF — and how it works.
IVF is a medical procedure where eggs are taken from your ovaries and combined with sperm in a laboratory dish. Afterward, the resulting embryos are placed back into your uterus, where the embryo(s) can implant.
IVF might be a suitable option for you if:
Remember, the suitability of IVF depends on your unique medical history and circumstances. Dr. Allsup determines whether IVF aligns with your needs and goals during your fertility consultation.
Now that you’ve explored what IVF is and might need it let’s highlight the steps you can expect during IVF treatments.
The first step to kicking off your IVF cycle is to take fertility medication. Normally, you produce one egg per month, but fertility medication stimulates your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This helps increase your chances of having a successful IVF cycle.
Once your eggs are mature, Dr. Allsup retrieves them via transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. Egg retrieval is a minor surgical procedure, but many women find it the most uncomfortable part of the IVF process. The good news is that it’s performed under mild sedation with analgesia to reduce your discomfort.
On the same day as your egg retrieval, either your male partner or a sperm donor provides a sperm sample. The sperm is then prepared through sperm washing.
Once your eggs and the sperm are ready, they are combined in a controlled environment. The embryologist may perform intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). During ICSI, a single sperm is directly injected into one of your eggs.
The fertilized eggs are now called embryos, and they’re placed into a special incubator. Embryologists closely monitor these embryos, and the temperature, humidity, and gasses in the incubator are all carefully controlled.
Embryo selection refers to choosing the most viable embryos to transfer to your uterus. The embryos may undergo preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to help screen for genetic disorders as part of the selection process.
Once the embryos are ready, it’s time to transfer them to your uterus in a painless procedure. Any extra viable embryos can be frozen for future use.
After your embryo transfer, you start the next phase of your IVF cycle: luteal phase support. Dr. Allsup provides hormonal medications (such as progesterone) to support your uterine lining and increase the chance of implantation.
About 10-14 days after the embryo transfer, it’s time to take a pregnancy test!
If the pregnancy test is positive, congratulations! Regular monitoring and ultrasounds track the progress of your pregnancy (and confirm the number of embryos), and you continue on your journey to motherhood with routine prenatal care.
IVF is an intricate process that involves various stages and a strict timeline, but this technology has provided hope to countless couples around the world. If you’re struggling to conceive on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out.
To explore your fertility options, call us at 210-547-4700 or use our online form to get started.