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In Vitro Fertilization

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

In vitro fertilization is used to help women with previous tubal ligation, damaged or blocked tubes, endometriosis, ovulation problems, advanced age or unexplained infertility; men with fertility problems; and couples requiring egg donation. In vitro fertilization involves several steps:

  1. Ovarian Stimulation. Medications are used to stimulate the ovaries to grow multiple eggs, rather than the single egg that normally develops during a monthly cycle.
  2. Egg Retrieval. Your physician will use ultrasound and blood tests to determine when the eggs are ready for retrieval before they’re released from the ovaries. During an outpatient procedure with mild sedation, the eggs are removed through a needle inserted into the ovary.
  3. Fertilization. The removed eggs are placed into a dish with sperm and fertilize naturally.
  4. Embryo Transfer. Three to five days later, during an office procedure, one or more of the fertilized eggs are injected through a tube inserted into the uterus. The embryo should implant into the lining of the uterus within six to ten days.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

In vitro fertilization may be enhanced with intracytoplasmic sperm injection. ICSI is an effective treatment for male-related infertility, such as low sperm count, low motility or movement of sperm, or other conditions that make it unlikely for the sperm to fertilize the woman's egg naturally. This procedure takes place in the laboratory, where one sperm is injected directly into the egg. The fertilized egg is then transferred to the woman’s uterus.

Preimplantation genetic screening/diagnosis

Preimplantation Genetic Screening is a way to test embryos for genetic abnormalities before placing them in the uterus. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis makes it possible to test for a specific genetic disease, to determine which embryos are affected with the disease and which embryos are not. This allows of selection of unaffected embryos for implantation and reduces this risk of passing the disorder to a child.

Third party donor options

When couples cannot conceive a child on their own, they may consider third party donor options. In vitro fertilization may be performed using donated sperm or donated eggs. If a woman is unable to become pregnant, or it is medically unsafe for her to be pregnant, her embryos can be placed into the uterus of another woman, called a “gestational carrier.” Talk to your reproductive endocrinologist if you’re interested in exploring any of these options.

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Katie Haller

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