(Thursday, September 18, 2014)

Summary: The IVF procedure is complicated and requires keen expertise and experience. The five step procedure is spread over a period of a few days and includes preparation of the ovaries and the uterus, to the final insertion of the prepared embryos.

IVF was first introduced about 35 years ago, and since then, it has come a long way. The IVF procedure has undergone many changes, and is now considered extremely sophisticated and accessible. The procedure itself helps couples overcome a lot of infertility issues and has helped people to have children when they are unable to conceive conventionally.

Knowing more about the IVF procedure can be really helpful, regardless of whether you have undergone fertility treatments. If you are planning to have In Vitro Fertilization, here’s what to expect.

Step 1: The first step is to test the couple and prepare the ovaries for stimulation. A lot of women undergo a test where the doctors test the uterus and do a mock transfer, which is a rather painless procedure that takes only a few minutes to complete, and allows the doctor to “map” the uterine cavity to ensure a smooth and atraumatic embryo transfer. This mock transfer is comparable to a pap smear. After the pre test, the IVF cycle starts. A lot of women given birth control pills to synchronize egg follicles.

Step 2: In the next step, the ovaries are stimulated and monitored. In an IVF cycle, it is important to have as many mature eggs as possible. The more eggs there are, the greater the possibility of success. For about 8 to 10 days, the woman is injected with drugs that stimulate the ovaries and produce multiple eggs. During this phase, the woman needs to come to the doctor's clinic 2-3 times for ultrasound scans for monitoring the egg development.

Step 3: At the end of the stimulation stage, the woman is given a trigger shot. This shot provides the final maturation of the eggs, which would now be ready for harvesting. This is the most important step in the procedure, because it is here that the doctors would be able to harvest the eggs. It is extremely important for the eggs to be just ripe – they should not be harvested too early or too late. Egg retrieval is usually performed about 36 hours from the final trigger shot.

Step 4: This is the step where embryo development takes place. The eggs are fertilized with the partner's or donor's sperm in a laboratory. After about 20 to 24 hours, they are checked to see if fertilization has occurred. If the eggs are fertilized, the best two or three are chosen for transfer after 3 -5 days.

Step 5: This is the final stage where the embryo transfer actually occurs. The number of embryos transferred into the uterus depends on the age and health of the woman, after considering the risk associated with multiple births.

After about 14 days of the egg retrieval, the woman is asked to take a pregnancy test to see if implantation has occurred. If the embryo has implanted, the woman would test positive for pregnancy. The doctors at clinics such as Malpani Infertility Clinic at can help you with a successful IVF procedure because of their experience and expertise.

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.

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