The term in vitro comes from the Latin for in glass. In the past, in vitro referred to biological experiments or procedures that were performed in receptacles made of glass, such as test tubes or petri dishes. Now, the term is used more generally as any procedure that involves the cultivation of cells or tissue outside of the organism from which it originates. One such process, called in vitro fertilization (IVF), assists in successful conception by promoting fertilization outside of the human body. If you are considering this advanced reproductive technology to help you realize your dream of parenthood, read on for a brief look at the process.
- Development of oocytes:
The first phase of IVF involves the development of the ovarian follicle and maturation of eggs through self-administered injections. During this process, the fertility doctor carefully monitors hormone levels using regular blood tests and follicular growth through ultrasound imaging. Once the eggs have reached a certain degree of maturation, a human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) injection is administered to prepare the eggs for removal.
- Egg retrieval:
At 35 to 36 hours after the hCG injection, the eggs are removed from the body using ultrasound-guided aspiration. While the patient is under sedation, the physician uses ultrasound to guide the aspiration needle to the mature follicles for removal of the eggs. During this process or immediately after, the male partner must provide a sperm sample.
- Assisted fertilization:
Once retrieved, the eggs and sperm are prepared and incubated together overnight. The eggs will then be checked for signs of fertilization and transferred to a special growth medium.
- Transfer of embryos:
The embryos that have been successfully cultivated in the laboratory are then transferred into the woman’s uterus. No anesthetic is needed for embryo transfer.
- Follow-up examination:
As soon as 8 to 14 days from transfer have passed, the patient returns for a pregnancy test and ultrasound.
Do you still have questions about the IVF process? You can learn more by contacting the fertility specialists at Fertility Centers of Illinois at (877) 499-8730. Our compassionate and experienced team has been supporting patients on their road to fertility since 1976. Call us today to set up a consultation.