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  • Writer's pictureRobin Acupuncture

Demystifying In Vitro Fertilization: Confidently Navigate the Phases of IVF


Embarking on the journey of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is often a significant step for couples and individuals striving to fulfill their dreams of parenthood. It's a meticulously orchestrated process, with each phase playing a pivotal role in the quest for conception. In this blog, I will provide a high level introduction to the major components of an IVF cycle. Whether you're considering IVF, currently undergoing it, or simply curious about the process, understanding its core elements will empower you with valuable knowledge and support as you navigate this transformative path to parenthood.


This blog does not cover acupuncture treatments. If you're curious about how acupuncture can help increase the chances of a successful IVF cycle, check out the following blogs:



IVF Phases


The overall IVF process can be broken into the following steps:


IVF Process

 


1. Ovarian Stimulation


During the ovarian stimulation phase, you will be taking multiple daily injections of hormones designed to grow follicles in your ovaries. This process typically spans about 8 to 14 days depending on how quickly your follicles grow. Ideally, we are trying to get as many follicles into the 15 to 22mm range as possible. Towards the middle to end of your ovarian stimulation phase, your medical team will closely monitor number of follicles and their size using ultrasound.



2. Egg Retrieval


After a sufficient number of follicles have grown to at least 15mm, you will be given a trigger shot to finalize the maturation of your eggs. About 36 hours after the trigger shot, your fertility doctor collect the matured eggs using a specially designed needle guided by ultrasound. This procedure is typically performed under light anesthesia and lasts about 10 to 15 minutes. Before you leave the clinic, your medical staff will let you know how many eggs were retrieved. Since not all follicles will contain mature eggs, the number of eggs collected is generally lower than the number of follicles measured by ultrasound.



3. Sperm Collection


If you are using your partner's sperm, it will typically be collected from your partner on the same day as your egg retrieval. It will then be carefully analyzed for count, motility and morphology to ensure suitability for fertilization.



4. Fertilization


Fertilization is where the magic of conception occurs outside the body. After eggs and sperm have been collected, they are brought together in a controlled laboratory environment. If male infertility is a potential factor, the sperm may be directly injected into the eggs using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).


The development of the fertilized eggs is closely monitored over the next few days. After about 5 days, the successfully fertilized eggs will have reached the blastocyst phase and are now ready to be transferred back into the body. In consultation with your medical team, you may also consider freezing some or all of your matured embryos for a future transfer date.



5. Embryo Transfer


The healthiest and most viable embryos are carefully chosen for transfer into the woman's uterus. This procedure typically takes place in a fertility clinic and is often quick and relatively painless. A thin catheter is used to gently place the selected embryos into the uterine cavity, where they can hopefully implant and develop into a successful pregnancy. The number of embryos transferred and the timing of the transfer can vary depending on several factors, including the woman's age and medical history. The embryo transfer marks a hopeful and optimistic moment in the IVF journey, offering the potential for a successful pregnancy and the realization of the dream of parenthood.


 

Final Thoughts


While IVF gives couples new hope for becoming pregnant, the process itself can be complex and filled with emotional highs and lows. If you are looking for support for your journey, I am here to help by sharing my expertise from having helped many couples undergo IVF. Interested in learning more? Book online or call (604) 469-1616.

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