Ever since I opened up about our Infertility and our IVF journey on my Instagram, I always got asked the same questions regarding IVF. I’ve come to realize that a lot of people don’t know what IVF is or what it entails.
In today’s post / video, I want to talk all about IVF and answering questions I received on Instagram. Please check out my in-depth video on my YouTube channel.
What is IVF?
IVF (or In-Vitro Fertilization) is the act of fertilizing a woman’s eggs with a man’s sperm outside of the body. Many people think that IVF gets you pregnant. Not quite the case!
Many woman who donate eggs, for example, may undergo the same process as a couple would for IVF.
What happens in IVF?
When you undergo IVF, you take medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce follicles. Follicles are found within the ovary, and within said follicles, are eggs. Hormone medication is administered over the course of 10-20 days to grow as many follicles as possible. When the follicles reach a specific size, the eggs are ready to be extracted from the body. When the eggs are extracted, they are immediately taken into the lab for fertilization.
There are different protocols doctors will use to try and achieve the best yield of eggs. There are many forms of infertility out there ranging from low egg reserve, PCOS, endometriosis, to male factor infertility. Different situations call for different protocols of IVF and some may even have you on birth control to start!
Why Use Birth Control on IVF?
Some doctors may have patients on birth control at the start of their IVF cycle. Sounds counter-productive, I know, but the reason for this is to regulate the menstrual cycle. IVF is a very-time consuming venture and many patients have work schedules to work around during their cycle. Birth control stops ovulation and can regulate a cycle.
How Do They Get the Eggs?
After several days of “stimming”, and the follicles are at a good size, your doctor will instruct you to take a “trigger shot” containing HCG (aka the Pregnancy Hormone). The shot then tells your body to mature the eggs within the follicles and prepare to ovulate. The typical ovulation response is 36-40 hours after the shot is administered so the egg retrieval surgery will be scheduled accordingly.
IVF Egg Retrieval is a short 10-30 minute surgery where the doctor will use ultrasound imagery to guide a long needle through the vaginal walls and into the ovaries. Once he/she reaches the ovaries, they will then poke each follicle and drain the fluid. The fluid within each follicle may carry an egg (note: not every follicle will produce an egg and not every egg will be mature!)
Patients are put to sleep during the procedure and it’s an outpatient procedure.
Check out my post where I explain how my surgery went and what to expect during an IVF egg retrieval!
What Happens After Egg Retrieval?
Immediately after the eggs are retrieved, they are taken to the lab to be fertilized. There are different methods of fertilization that can be used.
If male factor infertility is not an issue, then they will place eggs into a petri dish and “pour” a sperm specimen into the dish. Essentially, they let mother nature take over and let the sperm try to penetrate the egg like they would within the Fallopian tube.
ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection)
ICSI is a common method for those who may be dealing with male factor infertility. ICSI is the act of taking one single sperm and manually injecting it into an egg to “force” fertilization.
IVF Embryo Reports
Once the eggs are fertilized, they are then monitored over the course of 5 days to check on the progress. Not all eggs will be mature or fertilize. Not all fertilized eggs survive. By 5 days after retrieval, the best eggs will then become blastocysts (or embryos).
How Do You Get Pregnant with IVF?
As stated previously, IVF is not the act of “getting pregnant”, but rather, it’s the act of introducing a sperm and an egg outside of the body.
However, there is a procedure along with IVF called an “embryo transfer”. When the blastocysts are viable on day 5, patients often undergo an embryo transfer to get pregnant. There are two different types of embryo transfers: fresh and frozen.
Patients may want to take time off from IVF to recover from the medication and get back on a normal cycle before transfer. If that’s the case, the embryos are then cryo-preserved for a later date.
A fresh embryo transfer happens 5 days after egg retrieval.
Is IVF Worth It?
IVF can be costly, but it is worth it if you are dealing with infertility and want to start a family. Check out how I was able to get IVF for free.
IVF is a time-consuming venture, but in the end it will be worth it. If you gather a lot of eggs and they are mature/fertilize, you have the potential to have multiple babies. You can even donate to other couples, which I think is a beautiful thing!