So what exactly is the IVF process all about? What should patients expect from this treatment option? Let's take a quick look at the basics of IVF:
- In vitro fertilization was created in 1978 and has become very popular in the U.S. over the past few decades. Many women turn to prescription medications or surgery to treat infertility, rather than undergoing IVF, but it's still very effective and safe for women today.
- The process lasts about three weeks after the preliminary testing occurs. This process is referred to as an "ovulation induction."
- Medications are provided to the patient undergoing IVF, and these medications help the ovaries produce a large number of follicles. Each follicle contains one egg, and each egg needs to mature in the follicle before it can be taken out.
- The "harvested" eggs aren't necessarily going to become fertilized eggs; the doctor may have to retrieve several eggs just to have one or two healthy eggs that can develop.
- The growth and maturation of the follicles and eggs are measured through several ultrasounds and blood draws (which measure hormonal levels).
- When the eggs have matured, the patient is sedated and the eggs are removed by a gynecological specialist. These eggs are then fertilized with the father's sperm to create embryos. The embryos are monitored for development and quality, and if everything goes as planned, one or more embryos can be inserted back into the uterus to grow and develop as normal.
- Throughout the whole IVF process, it's important to remember that staying healthy is key to increasing your fertility! Even though it might be hard to fight off the stress, it's important to eat healthy foods, to exercise, and to get plenty of sleep. Some women even swear that acupuncture increased their fertility (although this might just be because the acupuncture allowed them to relax).