Steps of the In Vitro Fertilization Procedure
The first step in the detailed procedure for in vitro fertilization is egg production. Egg production must be increased in order to have more than one embryo available for implantation. Relying on one embryo alone may not deliver the desired results. Doctors will implant two to four embryos in the woman in order to increase its success rate.
Eggs will then be retrieved for fertilization in a procedure called follicular aspiration. Eggs are suctioned out of the woman in an outpatient procedure with mild anesthesia. Likewise, the man's sperm is collected, most often through masturbation. The eggs and sperm are then fertilized in the laboratory. The process of fertilization and cell division is carefully monitored to make sure that viable embryos develop.
Once the embryo reaches a certain stage of growth, they are implanted in the woman's uterus in hopes of a successful implantation. This process occurs three to five days after the eggs have been retrieved from the woman. Like the egg retrieval, this part of the procedure can be done in your doctor's office.
Risks of the Procedure
While most of the procedure is free of invasive methods, risks still exist during in vitro fertilization. The woman can develop infections or experience an allergic reaction to anesthesia. While replicating natural conception rates, the success rate diminishes with a woman's age.
Also, additional intervention in the laboratory may be necessary to ensure fertilization if the man's sperm count is low. Unfortunately, the procedure does not guarantee that a pregnancy will occur. Hormones given to the woman after the in vitro fertilization help ensure that implantation and thus, pregnancy, will occur.
The goal of the procedure is to minimize the risks throughout the different stages. This is evident in the variations of the procedure which place the natural occurrence of fertilization at the forefront.
Variations of the In Vitro Fertilization Procedure
Variations of the straightforward procedure exist, depending upon the condition of the woman. If a woman has one functioning fallopian tube, fertilization may be allowed to take place in the woman's body rather than the laboratory in a procedure called gamete intrafallopian transfer. The egg and sperm are brought together in a surgical procedure to assist fertilization.
Another variation of the detailed procedure for in vitro fertilization is similar to the former except fertilization occurs in the laboratory, followed by implantation into the fallopian tubes rather than the uterus. Each of these methods allow for a more natural experience should the woman's health permit.
The in vitro fertilization procedure allows a couple to experience the most natural childbirth experience possible within the limits which their mutual infertility places them. Though expensive, the procedure offers hope to the 10 percent of American couples who cannot conceive a child on their own.
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Mayo Clinic: Female Infertility
National Institutes of Health: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)