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Signs of Infertility
Most people consider the definition of infertility to be the inability to conceive after at least a year of trying. Or, alternatively, the definition could be the inability to carry a baby to term. These are the meanings that doctors assign to the term as well. But, before being diagnosed as...

A Look At In Vitro (IVF) Procedures

Posted Tuesday, October 14, 2008 9:51 PM

In Vitro Fertilization ProceduresMost people who are having fertility difficulties have heard of in vitro fertilization (IVF). And most people understand it on a basic level—that it is artificial insemination that is done in a laboratory. But, there is much more to it than that.

In vitro fertilization was first attempted in 1978, so many women nowadays may be unaware that it was once the subject of a great deal of controversy. There were many debates about the ethics and morals of the procedure, as well as many safety concerns.

But, since the 1980’s, IVF procedures have become much more widely accepted and popular. As many as 1% of all births are conceived via in vitro fertilization now.

This procedure is quite expensive, though, so most doctors only turn to it for couples for whom other methods of fertility treatment have failed. The average cost of an in vitro fertilization cycle costs about $8100 (not including medications, which can cost an additional $3000 on average). And, it can take the average woman three or more cycles of IVF in order for pregnancy to actually occur. So, couples should try other less-expensive options first if at all possible.

There are a few steps to doing an in vitro fertilization procedure. First of all, ovulation induction is necessary. In this step, a woman is given fertility drugs in order to help her ovaries produce eggs.
The next step for in vitro fertilization is egg retrieval, which is done under anesthesia. A woman is given a transvaginal ultrasound in order to help the doctor to correctly insert the retrieval needle. This needle needs to be placed at just the right spots in the ovaries so that egg follicles can be removed. After removal, the follicles are examined to see if any viable eggs are present.

Collecting and preparing the semen is the next step for in vitro fertilization. The semen collected has to be prepared by removing the sperm from the seminal fluid and by removing the inactive cells.

Next, the sperm and the egg are incubated together. The developing embryos are monitored, and any that do not have pronuclei (indicating genetic material from both the sperm and the egg) are discarded. The embryos are left to develop in a culture medium for several hours or up to five days, depending upon the couple’s reproductive history.

The final step for in vitro fertilization is embryo transfer. Usually, between two and four embryos are transferred. But, this can vary, depending upon the health of the embryos, the woman’s age, her risk for having multiples, and the number of embryos that were formed.

An ultrasound is done to help determine the best placement. The doctor inserts a catheter into the uterus and deposits the embryos, usually at the top of the uterus.

Success rates of in vitro fertilization really depend upon the fertility clinic and the doctor doing the procedure. It is wise for couples to ask for referrals from friends or other doctors in order to find the most qualified doctor for this technical procedure.

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