Ready To Take Control In Your Pregnancy With IVF? Understanding In Vitro Fertilization

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What To Expect With IVF

In vitro fertilization (IVF), is one of many assisted reproductive technology (ART) methods used to treat infertility. Today IVF is considered a reasonable alternative for couples struggling with infertility, but the process was viewed as controversial when first used in 1978. Since 1981, Americans have had access to IVF technology which along with other ART methods accounts for 1.9% of all babies born in the United States.

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Who uses IVF?

People assume that IVF is solely focused on helping infertile women conceive. But in reality, many people turn to this ART method. Women who want to conceive without a partner and same-sex couples are also candidates for IVF as the process relies on fertilizing eggs outside of the womb. Additionally, many women with serious conditions like cancer may opt to freeze eggs ahead of treatments such as chemotherapy which can cause sterility.

What is IVF?

IVF is probably the most recognized ART infertility solution. The process is also considered the most invasive and costly because a successful round usually includes hormonal fertility drugs to boost ovulation, egg and semen retrieval, fertilizing the eggs outside of the body, and then transferring the embryos into the uterus. IVF is usually managed in what’s known as cycles or rounds.

What to expect

A round typically follows the timing of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Shortly after the last period, a woman will begin taking fertility medication to boost the number of eggs released by the ovaries. Just before ovulation, the fertility specialist schedules a retrieval to remove the eggs before ovulation would occur. Immediately after, the eggs are mixed with either a partner’s or donor’s sperm and then if successfully fertilized, will undergo testing for any genetic abnormalities. Once cleared, embryo transfer is next and as many as 3 embryos are inserted into the uterus. Two weeks later, a pregnancy test is taken to determine if the round was successful.

Factors that influence IVF success

Like natural conception, multiple factors can impact IVF success. Age tends to be the most important determiner with women age 35 or younger having the highest success rates at 50%. Meanwhile, women over age 42 had a rate of just 3.9%. Likewise, using fresh versus frozen eggs, donated eggs, the facility, and even underlying causes of infertility can all impact overall success. Also, keep in mind that the average IVF candidate will undergo 2 to 3 rounds before achieving a successful pregnancy.

Be an informed patient

IVF may not be the solution for all women or couples but is often the recommended option when all other fertility treatments haven’t worked. While the process is expensive both financially and emotionally, the hope of conceiving makes it an attractive choice for many people. Before beginning IVF cycles, be sure to speak with a fertility specialist to understand exactly what to expect and how personal health history and fertility concerns may impact individual success rates.

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