Actually, the procedure of IVF (in vitro fertilization) conditionally consists of 3 stages, namely: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval and the last one is embryo fertilization and implantation. However, these stages can be divided into steps that are needed for successfully conceiving, pregnancy and birth of a healthy child.
The theory of the IVF cycle seems simple. But in the reality one IVF cycle takes 4-6 weeks. In other words, a woman loses 4-6 weeks of her life. Therefore, it is very important to the couple who have dared at IVF have clear idea what to expect and are able to spend their time for different tests, procedures, monitoring, etc.
Typical IVF Cycle
In fact, IVF cycle differs from the usual menstrual cycle with that things that there is no ovulation during IVF. It does not occur, because the doctor removes the egg for artificial insemination. The embryos which are fertilized in the laboratory, are no different from the ordinary embryos.
Here is an approximate cycle of IVF. Of course, each cycle is different and depends on the nature and causes of infertility, hormone levels and many other factors. But this list will help you clearly understand what to expect.
Woman’s menstrual cycle.
IVF cycle focused on the female menstrual cycle and depends on it. Beginning of the menstrual cycle is the beginning of your IVF. At this time, the patient begins to use oral contraceptives and / or Lupron. This allows the doctor to control the level of hormones in the blood and to predict the timing.
Lupron is used as an injection to complete the pre-stimulation ovarian suppression. These injections are done every day for about two weeks. Contraceptives should be taken from two to four weeks.
The proper baseline is very important thing when it comes to IVF. It means, that there are no any large cysts in the ovary, hormone level of some hormones is low, and your uterine lining is thin, clear and ready to begin a new cycle. Violation of these conditions significantly reduces the chances of pregnancy. Therefore, before starting a cycle of IVF doctor assigns a hormonal treatment to eliminate these problems.
Well, your hormones and ovaries are in sync, and it’s just the time for ovarian stimulation process. To do this, the doctor uses hormone (or hormone combination) that contribute to the emergence of multiple eggs in the follicles during one cycle. Name and dosage of drugs depends on the diagnosis and situation.
The use of hormonal drugs entails a number of side effects. Therefore, at this time the doctor carefully monitors the health of the woman and helps her to cope with the emotional rollercoaster.
The ovarian stimulation process takes about 8-12 days. During this time, the condition of your follicles and eggs into them is controlled via ultrasound.
At this stage the timing is very important. You must come to the doctor in 36 hours after HCG injection: it’s time for egg retrieval. It is mildly invasive procedure, so patient needs anesthesia. For retrieving a doctor uses ultrasound directed follicular aspiration (UDFA). Due to it the doctor can remove ripe eggs delicately.
Within a few hours after the egg retrieval specialist fertilizes them with sperm of the partner or donor sperm. Three days later embryos are checked for viability. In 24-48 hours after it results will be known. If one (or more) of the embryos meet the necessary requirements, the doctor determines the day of their transfer into the uterus.
So we have come almost to the end of our road.
This procedure does not need anesthesia. The doctor uses a thin, tiny tube to transfer your five-day embryo into the uterus. As a rule, the doctor uses a single embryo, because multiple pregnancy implies great risk.
The embryos remaining after the procedure can be frozen for later use.
At this stage, the main thing is to stay calm. During the first week after the transfer your embryo should be implanted in the uterus. If this happens, the body starts to produce a special hormone, showing that pregnancy has come. Approximately two weeks after the transfer of the patient makes a pregnancy test.
Tests can be carried out on days 10 – 14: they need to make sure that the implantation takes place safely.
If pregnancy has come, you can be designated progesterone to maintain it. This hormone reduces the likelihood of miscarriage. If the test is negative, you can do IVF again: the chance of pregnancy increases with each subsequent cycle.