If you have tried unsuccessfully to get pregnant with basic fertility treatments (Clomid, Letrozole, IUI or surgery) an Assisted Reproductive Technology such as In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) may be the right procedure for you.

What is IVF?

IVF provides a path to overcome many problems associated with infertility. In this procedure, the eggs are retrieved from your body and combined with your partner’s sperm (or donor’s eggs/sperm if you have chosen a donor) to allow fertilization to occur in the lab with the goal of producing healthy embryos. One to two embryos are then transferred to your uterus to become attached (implantation) with the goal being a successful pregnancy.

What Are Benefits of IVF?

The benefits of IVF apply to a wide range of patients, including those who:

  • Lack success in prior fertility treatments
  • Experience low ovarian function
  • Have few remaining eggs (oocytes)
  • Develop blocked fallopian tubes
  • Exhibit male causes of infertility
  • Desire genetic testing of their embryos
  • Wish to postpone pregnancy until a later date
  • Plan to preserve fertility and delay pregnancy due to cancer or other health concerns

The process of IVF is often discussed in medical terms, but there are several steps that need to be taken before and after IVF to ensure success. We want you to be able to follow along with the process we have planned for you. We will guide you every step of the way!

What is IVF?

IVF is a fertility treatment in which sperm and eggs are combined in a laboratory to allow for fertilization outside of the body, and then transferred into the uterus.

Getting Ready for Your IVF procedure:

  • Bring your record to your first appointment and complete a medical history form
  • Meet with your physician and your future fertility team for an initial consultation
  • Complete hormone testing and imaging of your uterus, tubes and ovaries with a pelvic ultrasound and hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
  • Have a semen analysis completed for the male partner
  • Choose a sperm donor, egg donor, or gestational carrier if applicable, and meet with a reproductive psychologist for counseling to discuss third-party reproduction
  • Perform genetic testing, such as carrier screening, for common genetic conditions or testing for your specific situation if you or your partner are at risk for or affected by a genetic condition, and meet with a genetic counselor if indicated
  • Perform screening blood tests for infectious disease
  • Meet with your physician to discuss and further review your individual IVF plan
  • Meet with our financial counselor to review options for covering cost of IVF

Your IVF Evaluation

Prior to beginning ART, you will be evaluated to maximize your chances for a healthy pregnancy. Being in the best health possible is important to achieving successful results. We make certain to test for chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma, and develop a comprehensive plan to control these conditions prior to conception.

Carrying extra weight can be an added stress on the IVF process and increase your chances of miscarriage and preterm birth. At Inovi, our counselors offer options to help you manage your weight and determine your BMI prior to the procedure so that you are in the best shape possible prior to taking that step.

Blood Testing

General- Your blood type will be determined and you will receive screening for various conditions and immunities that could affect your pregnancy and IVF procedure. Genetic tests may be done or requested depending on your family and medical history.

Ovarian Reserve Testing- These tests measure women’s egg quantity, quality and ability to reproduce.

Other Tests Included in Ovarian Reserve-

  • Menstrual Cycle measurement of FSH, LH and Estradiol levels
  • Chlomophene Challenge Test to determine elevated FSH which can lead to reduced pregnancy rate
  • Anti-Mullerian Hormone Test (AMH)

These tests are usually performed during a woman’s menstrual cycle on certain specific days.

Semen Testing

This will be performed to determine sperm quality and may be repeated throughout the process to provide best information for IVF success.

Uterus Testing

Your uterine function and anatomy is important to your pregnancy. We will evaluate your uterus prior to IVF with a hysterosalpingogram, a saline infusion sonohysterography or hysteroscopy.

What is the IVF Process?

Prior to fertilization you will be prescribed oral contraceptive pills or estrace (estrogen) for 2-3 weeks prior to starting your cycle. Once your cycle starts, you will be given gonadotropins (injectable fertility medication) such as Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH) or a combination of both for 8-12 days.

These hormones stimulate your body’s ability to produce multiple eggs and provide you with the best chance for ideal pregnancy conditions. During this time, your doctor measures your hormone levels and performs multiple ultrasounds so both you and your partner can see and follow the progress of your egg development.

Once your eggs have matured, as determined by the ultrasound findings and hormone levels, they will be removed in our office through a process called IVF Retrieval. Your doctor performs the procedure with ultrasound-guided equipment in the comfort of our clinic.

What Happens After IVF Retrieval?

After the IVF retrieval, your eggs are combined with the sperm and fertilized in the lab.

After the eggs are fertilized they develop in the laboratory for 5 days and are typically transferred back to your uterus in another cycle. This method is called “Freeze-all” and allows for the best pregnancy rates with IVF since your hormone levels will have returned to normal levels following the IVF retrieval. Once the embryos are transferred back to your uterus (embryo transfer), you will be given fertility hormones for 6-7 weeks to support and nurture your new pregnancy. Ultrasounds will also be taken to confirm the progress of your new pregnancy, provide date of expected delivery and ensure your baby has a healthy development.

Call our offices at 713-401-9000 or schedule your private consultation to get on your path to pregnancy.

What happens if the sperm cannot fertilize my egg?

At times some people experience unexplained infertility or male factor infertility where the sperm cannot fertilize the egg. In this case, your doctor may suggest an added step in the IVF process called ICSI. Instead of the sperm being allowed to fertilize the egg on their own in the lab, an additional fertility procedure (ICSI) is needed to increase your chances of pregnancy.

In this situation, the healthy sperm are directly injected into the eggs in a process called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI. ICSI raises your chances of pregnancy by increasing the total percentage of eggs that are fertilized.

When Would I Want to Delay Embryo Transfer?

Under certain circumstances, you may choose to freeze (cryopreserve) the fertilized eggs (embryos) for months to years before having an embryo transfer. The decision to freeze your embryos is often determined through discussions with your reproductive team in combination with your doctor, partner and team members based on the following:

  • Hormone levels
  • Risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
  • Findings during ovarian stimulation or embryo development
  • Desire for genetic testing and diagnosis prior to implantation (PGT)
  • Need for a delayed pregnancy based on medical or social circumstances

What Are IVF Results and Success Rates?

In order to accurately interpret typical IVF success rates you need to understand the differences between clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates since they are not the same. Clinical pregnancy rates are the percentage of IVF cycles that result in a pregnancy seen on ultrasound at 6 weeks. Live births would be the birth of a live baby after 6 months (ideally 9 months) of pregnancy. The difference is that pregnancies may end early or prematurely prior to birth of the fetus.

Success rates can depend on these factors:

  • Past reproductive history
  • Age of the female
  • Causes of infertility
  • Medical or genetic problems of the fetus or parents
  • Events that occur during pregnancy

What are the risks of IVF?

As with any procedure or medication to achieve better outcomes you may experience risks. At Inovi we do everything possible to lower your chances of these and several other conditions such as:

  • Multiple births
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (chance of short-term swollen and irritated ovaries due to medications)
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Birth of children with preventable genetic conditions
  • Premature delivery and low birth weight

After your IVF procedure:

  • Take a pregnancy test two weeks after your transfer and discuss the results with your physician
  • Continue taking medications that provide hormonal support of the pregnancy (luteal phase support)
  • Follow up with your doctor for your first and second pregnancy ultrasounds
  • Continue your pregnancy care with an ObGyn of your choice

Other information you might find helpful can be found here:

Semen Analysis

Can I Afford IVF?

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Embryo Freezing

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