- Ovarian Stimulation- The first step to IVF is to take medications which can help your ovaries produce eggs which are ready for fertilization. Even if ovulation is normal, fertility drugs are used to produce more than a single egg because pregnancy rates are higher with more eggs.
- Egg retrieval- Once the ovaries have produced enough eggs, the doctor will remove the eggs from your body. This process is known as egg retrieval. An ultrasound is done to visually guide a small needle through the vagina to one ovary and then to the other. This process is usually painless. The follicular fluids are gently extracted using a suction that carries the egg along with the fluid. This process takes 30-40 minutes. The number of eggs to be extracted depends upon multiple factors such as aging, response to ovarian stimulation, ovarian reserve etc. Once eggs reach the lab, experts examine them to determine maturity and quality.
- Fertilization- Mature eggs are transferred into a special culture medium, placed in an incubator and within a few hours of egg retrieval are fertilized with sperm. The eggs and sperm are stored together in a special container, so that the sperm can fertilize the egg.
- Embryo culture- The embryos are cultured in a petri dish and screened for any genetic disorders that may have passed from any of the partners.
- Embryo transfer- About 3-5 days after the egg retrieval, 1 or more embryos are put into your uterus. This process is called embryo transfer. The doctor slides a thin tube through your cervix into your uterus, and implants the embryo directly into your uterus through the tube.
Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos attach to the lining of your uterus.