In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is an extensive procedure requiring both considerable time and expense. It’s important that you understand how it works so you have a better idea of what to expect.
Step 1 – Daily testing:
- For about 10 days, you will have daily blood tests measuring certain hormone levels (E2 and/or LH), as well as intermittent ultrasound scans (primarily during the last 4-5 days of stimulation). Each day, the dose of your fertility medication will be determined by the results of your blood test and ultrasound.
Step 2 – HCG shot:
- After the 10-day period, you will receive instructions for when to take an injection, called a “HCG” shot (usually between 8 and 10 p.m.).
Step 3 – Egg retrieval:
- Approximately 35 hours after your HCG shot, we will retrieve your eggs. On average, we retrieve 10 eggs each time at the MFC.
Step 4 – Sperm introduction:
- The eggs and sperm are then mixed together in a petri dish. In IVF, fertilization of the egg must occur naturally by the sperm; in intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), on the other hand, the sperm is injected directly into the egg.
Step 5 – Fertilization checks:
- The morning after retrieving your eggs, we will check them for fertilization and will call you to deliver the news. One of our embryologists will be able to tell you how many eggs were mature (good quality) and how many were fertilized.
Step 6 – Embryo grading:
- On the third day after egg retrieval, we will call you again to give you an update and a grading of the quality of your embryos.
Step 7 – Embryo/blastocyst transfer:
- Earlier in the process, you will have determined with your treatment team whether you will have IVF or ICSI or both, and also whether you will have a day 3 (embryo) transfer or a day 5 (blastocyst) transfer. It’s also usually decided ahead of time if you will have 1 or 2 embryos transferred, but sometimes the decision is made on the day of your transfer based on the quality of the embryos/blastocysts.
- The transfer itself is a painless procedure that takes minutes. Ultrasound helps guide the catheter tip to ensure proper placement. You will need to have a full bladder for the procedure and you will have to remain in the clinic for 30 minutes following the transfer.
Step 8 – Pregnancy test:
- Twelve days after your transfer, you’ll take a standard pregnancy test (which measures a specific hormone calld “BhCG” present in pregnant women).
Step 9 – Follow-up:
- If your test is positive, congratulations! An ultrasound will be scheduled for approximately 2 weeks later.
- If your test is negative, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled to review the entire procedure and determine if any changes to the cycle are needed before trying other treatment options.