23 March 2017

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a rather complicated process and it can be very confusing, especially if you are nervous about the upcoming treatment. To save your time and nerves we broke down this process into 5 main stages, describing them in words everyone could understand without medical background.

Stage 1. Stimulation of superovulation

With the begging of the cycle, you will be prescribed a detailed plan of medications to stimulate ovaries to produce multiple follicles, each of which may contain an egg. Sometimes, follicles may appear to be empty, especially if the ovarian reserve runs low.

Stage 2. Egg puncture under anesthesia and sperm collection

Around 2 weeks after the beginning of stimulation process, you will have your grown follicles collected with the help of ultrasound-guided needle, placed through the vaginal wall to collect the fluid from each follicle. Then, the fluid will be analyzed for a number of eggs. After everything is collected from one ovary, the procedure repeats with another ovary. At the same time sperm sample will be collected from a male. Both eggs and sperm will be prepared for fertilization process.

Stage 3. Fertilization and embryo culture

Eggs are placed in a Petri dish to mature for a few hours. There are two ways of fertilization during IVF: ordinary fertilization and ICSI. During the ordinary fertilization process sperm and eggs are put together in lab dish for fertilization to occur. In cases of any sperm abnormalities, ICSI is recommended, when doctor picks a single strong sperm and injects it into the egg. Fertilized eggs develop into embryos.

Stage 4. Embryo transfer

Embryos will be evaluated according to their development stage and quality to choose the best embryos for transfer. PGD can be used to ensure the best quality of embryos and avoid genetic abnormalities, as well as pick a gender of the future baby. Normally, on 5th or 6th day after egg puncture some embryos will be transferred to the uterus through a special catheter under the ultrasound guidance. Medication prescriptions don’t stop here, you need to support that embryo growing. Two weeks after the HCG test, pregnancy blood test, will show if the efforts were successful.

Stage 5. Embryo freezing and storage

IVF produces a number of embryos, but only 1-2 embryos can be transferred at a time. The rest embryos can be frozen for later treatments or new attempts. In our programs we use vitrification – modern ultrafast freezing technique, which guarantees high survival rates (95%) after defreezing and the same pregnancy rates as during fresh embryo transfer.

We hope this step-by-step process will help both, those who are undergoing the treatment already, and those who are only planning to do so.