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A Short Guide to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
What is IVF?
In Vitro Fertilization or IVF is the process of treating genetic or fertility problems while conceiving a baby by
using the woman’s eggs and her partner’s sperm. The process involves Extraction of eggs, taking a sperm sample
and then manually combining an egg and a sperm in a laboratory dish for fertilization. The embryo is then
transferred to the uterus. In Vitro Fertilization is a form of what is known as assisted reproductive technology
or ART. Other forms of ART include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intra-fallopian transfer
Why is IVF used?
IVF can be used to treat infertility in the following patients:
-Who have damaged or blocked fallopian tubes or women whose fallopian tubes have been removed
-Where the males have decreased sperm count or sperm motility
-Women with ovulation disorders , ovarian failure or uterine fibroids
-Genetic disorders in individuals
-Infertility due to unexplained causes
There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process:
The first step involves the prescription of fertility medicines which aid in stimulating egg production. Multiple
eggs are desired because some eggs will not develop or fertilize after retrieval. An ultrasound is done to examine
the ovaries and blood test samples are taken to check hormone levels.
The second step involves a minor surgical procedure through which the eggs are retrieved.
The third step involves asking the male partner to produce a sample of sperm to combine with the eggs.
The fourth step is a process called insemination where the sperm and the eggs are mixed together and stored in a
laboratory. The eggs are monitored to confirm that fertilization and cell division are taking place. Once this
occurs, the fertilized eggs are considered embryos.
The fifth step and the final step consists of transfer of embryos into a women’s uterus three to five days after egg
retrieval and fertilization. After this, implantation occurs around six to ten days after the egg retrieval.
Side effects of IVF
Although some may need some rest after the procedure, most women can resume normal activities the following
Having said that some of the side effects of IVF may include:
Tenderness on the breasts
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
Heavy vaginal bleeding
Blood in the urine
A fever over 100.5 °F (38 °C)
Some side effects of fertility medications may include:
On rare occasions, patients may suffer from ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS)
IVF is not a completely risk –free operation but then that is the case with most medical procedures. Due to OHSS,
some of the more severe problems could be
Nausea or vomiting
Frequency of urination coming down
Shortness of breath
Severe stomach pain and bloating
Rapid weight gain
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately.
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