IVF stands for in vitro fertilization which is a method of infertility treatment that involves getting eggs from ovaries, fertilizing them with a sperm in a laboratory, growing embryo and transferring it into a woman’s uterus.

Process of IVF:

Step 1. Medical examination

Patients usually produce available medical information relating to their infertility history, do necessary tests and get examined by specialists in IVF clinic prior IVF procedures.


Step 2. Controlled stimulation of ovaries

Women may expect to start getting medications that induce superovulation in this stage. Naturally a woman’s body usually produces one egg. Medical treatment in IVF course induces production of more than one egg. Medicines to be taken by a patient and protocol of treatment are determined by an IVF specialist based on personal circumstances of a woman-patient that include her age, results of laboratory tests and medical examinations, previous infertility treatment data etc.

IVF clinic will monitor the progress of follicle growth throughout the whole period of medicine treatment to determine a right time for egg retrieval. They will do ultrasound scans and blood tests.


Step 3. Egg retrieval.

As soon as follicles become mature enough, IVF facility schedules time of egg retrieval. Usually women are given pain medication or they can choose to be put under full anesthesia. It takes about half an hour to an hour to locate follicles and remove eggs with a hollow needle.


Step 4. Fertilization of the eggs and culturing embryos

Eggs are fertilized with a sperm of a partner or donor within 3 to 8 hours after egg retrieval. It requires a partner to collect his sperm on the same day or provide it cryopreserved beforehand. They check on result in about 16-18 hours after fertilization and place obtained embryos in fresh medium to be cultured for 2 to 5 days. Recipient of embryos is given medication to get lining of her womb prepared for embryo transfer.


Step 5. Embryo transfer and cryopreservation

Obtained embryos are cultured for 2 to 5 days, then embryologist select embryos of the best quality to be transferred into recipients’ uterus. Embryo transfer is quicker and easier than egg retrieval. It is painless and performed by inserting flexible catheter into recipient’s womb where embryos are deposited. Number of embryos to be transferred is to be agreed on with an IVF specialist, but in most cases they transfer 1 to 2 embryos. IVF clinic cryopreserves remaining embryos of good and excellent quality for future IVF attempts.


Step 6. Keeping up luteal phase

IVF specialist prescribes medications to be taken to support luteal phase after embryo transfer. One can expect to get shots of progesterone in this stage.


Step 7. Diagnosing pregnancy

Pregnancy is diagnosed with help of blood tests and urine tests. Unlike urine test, blood test for chorionic gonadotropin is more sure way to diagnose pregnancy. It is done in 12 to 16 days after embryo transfer. In case of a positive result, they will do ultrasound examination in about 12-14 days after the blood test and a patient gets registered with medical facility that will

If pregnancy does not occur, a patient can take the second IVF attempt. It will exclude steps 2, 3 and 4 if frozen embryos of good quality have been left after the first IVF course.

Success of IVF attempts hinges on numerous of factors like woman’s health condition, quality of eggs and sperm, correct timing, level of competence and professionalism of IVF specialists etc.


Methods often used in IVF procedures:

ICSI - Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection. This method is used to deliver high pregnancy rate in IVF procedure. They choose a healthy and viable sperm and inject it right into an egg to fertilize it. This method is used when there are any kind of problems with sperm of a male partner like bad morphology. They use magnification of 200 – 400 x to choose a healthy sperm.


IMSI - intracytoplasmic morphologically selected sperm injection – is a procedure similar to ICSI with the only difference that they choose morphologically healthy sperm using magnification of 6600 X. Such magnification gives a detailed view of a sperm’s morphological peculiarities and thus provides a better precision of a choice.


PDG (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnostics) – is a procedure that allows to check an embryo for chromosomal abnormalities. They check one or a couple of blastomeres (cells) of each obtained embryo for the most common aneuploidies (chromosomal abnormalities) prior to embryo transfer. This procedure helps people with inherited conditions avoid passing them on to their children. This procedure also gives an opportunity to select sex of an embryo/s.


You can learn more detailed information on IVF and other procedures from our Useful articles.