Normally, for you to get pregnant, your ovary must release an egg, which is then fertilized by a sperm in your fallopian tube—in other words, fertilization normally happens inside the female body. When the fertilization is impaired or the transport of egg, sperm, or embryo is compromised, IVF can be used to bridge the gap and allow fertilization to happen outside of your body.
IVF is the process of fertilization by artificially uniting an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. If the IVF procedure is successful and an embryo is formed, the process is followed by an Embryo Transfer (ET), which is a procedure that physically places the embryo into the uterus, where it will hopefully implant and continue to grow as it was intended to do so.
You may be a candidate for IVF if you have:
– Blocked or damaged tubes
– Failure of IUI
– Male factor infertility causing significant sperm problems
– Unexplained infertility
The IVF and ET process involves several steps:
1. Stimulate and monitor the development of healthy egg(s) in the ovaries. This involves about 10 days of ovarian stimulation with fertility injections. Frequent visits to the clinic for blood work and ultrasound studies are mandatory during this stimulation period.
2. Collect as many eggs as possible
3. Collect the sperm
4. Combine the eggs and sperm together in the laboratory
5. Provide the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth
6. Transfer embryos into the uterus after a 3-5 days incubation period to allow for proper selection of embryos and potentially freeze any remaining embryos for future use
Egg Collection/Ovum Pick Up (OPU):
After roughly 10 days of ovarian stimulation with drugs and close monitoring by ultrasounds and hormone measurements, a final injection (HCG-Ovidrel) is given to trigger ovulation and complete the final stage of egg maturation. 36 hours after the ovulation trigger, egg collection or OPU is scheduled. The procedure is typically done under conscious IV sedation which is usually effective at alleviating discomfort. You also have the option of choosing deeper sedation, where you will be completely asleep.
Under sterile conditions, a transvaginal ultrasound scan is performed to identify the follicles containing your eggs. Next, a special needle is passed through the needle guide attached to the tip of the ultrasound probe. The needle is then passed through the vaginal wall to reach each ovary. Each follicle, under ultrasound guidance, is aspirated to retrieve the egg within the follicular fluid. The collected fluid is then passed to the embryology lab where it will be microscopically examined by the Embryology team to identify and separate the eggs in special petri dishes.