In vitro fertilization, more commonly known as IVF, has assisted in millions of births across the United States. IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that assists in the majority of the stages of conception.
Dr. Sonja Kristiansen offers IVF as a solution for many fertility problems, including unidentified sources of infertility. Here, patients can learn more about the typical IVF treatment timeline offered at Dr. Kristiansen’s Houston, TX practice, the Houston Fertility Center. Following is a brief outline of the phases of IVF treatment that assist our patients throughout the stages of conception.
Stage One: Ovarian Stimulation
Following fertility testing and ovarian suppression, which is the use of birth control pills to regulate ovulation, ovarian stimulation is the first stage of IVF treatment. The goal of ovarian stimulation is to encourage the production of as many mature eggs (or follicles) as possible.
Ovarian stimulation is achieved through the administration of fertility medications. Treatment will be tailored to the specific needs of each patient, but is likely to combine oral and injectable medications.
Throughout ovarian stimulation, Dr. Kristiansen will perform tests, including ultrasounds, so that any necessary medication adjustments can be made. Ovarian stimulation typically lasts between eight and 14 days.
Stage Two: Semen Collection
The next phase of IVF treatment involves the collection and processing of the semen sample. A semen sample will be collected from either the male partner or a donor. Once the semen is collected, it is processed so that the strongest sperm are isolated. This stage of treatment is scheduled to take place just before egg retrieval.
Stage Three: Egg Retrieval
Egg retrieval is scheduled to take place prior to ovulation. It is important to collect mature eggs before they are naturally released.
The patient will be given a “trigger” dose of hormones that encourages the release of the eggs. We will time egg retrieval to take place about 36 hours after this trigger shot.
Egg retrieval is a minimally invasive procedure that will be performed with the patient under the effect of sedation. Using the guidance of ultrasound technology, a thin needle will be inserted trans-vaginally so that the eggs can be aspirated. Collected eggs will be introduced to sperm for fertilization.
Stage Four: Fertilization
Each collected egg will be mixed with a concentrated semen sample and observed for fertilization. It takes 14 to 18 hours to confirm if fertilization has taken place. Any eggs that have been fertilized will be monitored for the next several days to determine which are the healthiest and most mature.
Stage Five: Embryo Transfer
The embryo transfer is the final stage of IVF treatment. This procedure takes place on day three or five of embryonic growth. Whenever possible, we prefer to perform this procedure on day five, since we can select fewer, more mature embryos for transfer.
Embryo transfer is a painless procedure that allows Dr. Kristiansen to implant the selected number of embryos directly into the woman’s uterus. Within about two weeks of the patient’s egg retrieval, we can perform a blood test to determine if the patient is pregnant, meaning that one or more embryos has implanted on the uterine lining.
If you are dealing with fertility issues, you may be an ideal candidate for in vitro fertilization. To learn more about the typical IVF treatment timeline and whether this may be a suitable treatment for your unique situation, contact us at your earliest convenience.