4 Things to Understand When Deciding to Undergo In Vitro Fertilization

Infertility can be a challenging issue for couples trying for a child of their own.

Thanks to incredible advances in medicine, however, infertility in many cases can be

readily overcome.

That’s not to say the process will be easy, particularly for those who turn to in vitro

fertilization (IVF).

As you think about whether to undergo IVF, here are few things to consider before

making your decision.


“When you know what to expect before

deciding to pursue IVF, the process will go

much more smoothly and will ideally give

you the baby you’ve been hoping for.”


Preliminary Testing

Although IVF can overcome many infertility issues, it doesn’t work for all couples. As a result, you’ll have to undergo certain infertility tests before you and your doctors can determine if IVF is the right choice. The battery of tests will include blood tests from both the patient and her partner. The blood tests have to meet criteria set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most will also perform an evaluation of the uterine cavity. The evaluation will identify any uterine abnormalities that need to be addressed before starting IVF.

Understanding the Risks

IVF has become increasingly safe as medicine continues to advance, but it is not without risks. One of the most likely is multiple births. In fact, according to the National Infertility Association, 45 percent of IVF babies worldwide are , meaning three or more fetuses. Risks associated with high-order pregnancies include low birth weight, a higher incidence of mortality, premature birth, and birth defects.

On the bright side, though, the miscarriage rate among women who conceive with IVF is no higher than the rate among women who conceive without assisted reproductive technology. The rate of miscarriage increases with maternal age, however.

4 Things to Understand When Deciding to Undergo In Vitro Fertilization

Inducing Ovulation

The first step involved with IVF is the induction of ovulation with synthetic hormones and other medications. The purpose of this process is to force your body to produce multiple eggs instead of the standard one per month. Your doctor will most likely inject you with medications such as follicle-stimulating hormones, luteinizing hormones, or a combination thereof. Your doctor may also give you medications for oocyte maturation, the prevention of premature ovulation, and the preparation of the uterine lining.

Retrieving the Eggs

Your doctor will retrieve the eggs in an office or clinic visit 34 to 36 hours after your last injection but prior to ovulation. Because this process would otherwise be painful, your doctor will sedate you and provide pain medication. Using a transvaginal ultrasound, your doctor will find follicles and then insert a thin needle into the follicles through your vagina to capture the eggs.

The fertility specialist will then place the mature eggs in a culture for incubation. Remember that, even when the eggs are exposed to sperm, they may not all become fertilized.

4 Things to Understand When Deciding to Undergo In Vitro Fertilization

IVF, although potentially so rewarding, can be an emotionally and financially taxing endeavor. But when you know what to expect before deciding to pursue it, the process will go much more smoothly and will ideally give you the baby you’ve been hoping for.


Photo Source: Title Image via Flickr by Torsten Mangner


Have you or someone you know considered in vitro fertilization?

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