Houston Fertility Center

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Dealing with infertility can be discouraging and overwhelming, but you are not alone. Treatment is more effective than ever before.

At Houston Fertility Center, we offer in vitro fertilization, or IVF, to help you overcome challenges and begin building your family.

Why should you consider pursuing IVF?

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Becoming Pregnant Even under Trying Circumstances 

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Increased Chances of Success

IVF increases your chances of becoming pregnant even if you and your partner have been diagnosed with fertility issues, such as ovulation disorder or male factor infertility. IVF also allows non-traditional families to enjoy the benefits of parenthood

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Impressive Success Rates

Our overall success rates perform very well compared to the national success rates, especially in patients over the age of 35. To help deliver the most realistic expectations possible, Dr. Sonja Kristiansen believes in performing a complete evaluation and honestly discussing the probability of pregnancy with her patients before they make their decision. 

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Incredibly Affordable

Because we are equipped with our own in-house, state-of-the-art laboratory, we can make treatment more affordable than at other centers. By handling every step of the process in our facility, we can also ensure the highest success rate possible. To further help patients, we provide revolving special offers on IVF treatments. 

How does IVF at Houston Fertility Center work?

Learn about our unique approach to IVF. 

Is treatment successful?

IVF Success Rates Are Constantly Improving

More Information The IVF Process

In-Vitro Fertilization or IVF is a six step process. After controlled ovarian hyperstimulation, eggs are obtained from the ovaries by inserting an aspiration needle through the back of the vagina while under light anesthesia. The eggs are cleaned and husband or donor washed sperm is then added to the droplet containing the egg for fertilization. Micromanipulation of the egg and sperm, such as ICSI would be preformed at this stage, if indicated. The fertilized egg is called a zygote, zygotes develop into embryos. The embryos are incubated in the lab for three to five days. Prior to the embryo transfer the assisted hatching procedure is preformed to encourage implantation.

Step 1: Ovarian Stimulation – Injectable hormone medications such Gonal F are given with a thin, small needle just underneath the skin for several days to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles. The development of these follicles is monitored by frequent vaginal ultrasounds and blood tests. Once the follicles have matured to the appropriate size, an injection of another hormone medication such as Ovidrel is given, which works like luteinizing hormone (LH) to release the egg. It is usually given the day after the last dose of Follistim and given at a specific time as instructed by the nurse. It is extremely important to adhere to the time the nurse states. The in-vitro fertilization (IVF) scheduled time is dependent to the proper dosing time of the Ovidrel.

Step 2: Semen Collection/Processing – Shortly before the egg retrieval, a semen sample will be collected and processed to isolate the strongest most active sperm. These sperm will be placed with each aspirated egg. We strongly encourage patients to consider freezing a semen specimen several weeks in advance of the egg retrieval date for several reasons. Coordinating work and surgery schedules can prove difficult and illness can occur unexpectedly. Also, the expectation of producing a sample on demand the day of the egg retrieval can be stressful.

Illustration of IVF Egg RetrievalStep 3: Egg Retrieval – Under light sedation given by a licensed Anesthesiologist, in a special air filtration egg retrieval suite, the doctor aspirates each mature follicle with a needle guided by ultrasound. This is usually done through the back of the vaginal wall but on rare occasions can be done through the abdomen. The aspirated eggs are then passed on to the Embryologist to identify and fertilize.

This is the stage where additional micromanipulation can occur if needed such as ICSI.

Illustration of IVF processICSI involves an embryologist injecting a single sperm directly into a mature egg under a microscope. This procedure is done to increase probability of fertilization when there is a male factor problem such as low sperm count, poor motility/morphology, or when the sperm aspiration techniques TESA/MESA are used to obtain a sperm specimen. ICSI is also recommended if fertilization did not occur in previous IVF attempts.

Fertilized OocyteStep 4: Fertilization Evaluation – 14 to 18 hours after the sperm and egg are placed together; they are evaluated by the Embryologist to confirm fertilization. If fertilization occurs, the zygotes (fertilized eggs) are cultured in preparation for embryo transfer. Continued observation will occur over the next few days by the Embryologist, who will determine the quality of the embryo. The quality of the embryo will determine when the embryo transfer will take place and the number of embryos to transfer. Depending on the number of fertilized eggs, some may be frozen for use in a later cycle.

Assisted Hatching illustrationStep 5: Assisted Hatching (AH) – This technique is used to improve the probability of the embryo’s implantation. Assisted Hatching involves the Embryologist opening a small hole in the outer membrane known as the zona pellucida of the embryo. This opening improves the ability of the embryo to leave its “shell” and implant into the uterine lining. Patients that may benefit from Assisted Hatching (AH) include those with previous In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) failure, poor embryo growth rate, moderate to excessive cytoplasmic fragmentation and women with advanced maternal age.

Embryo Transfer illustrationStep 6: Embryo Transfer – This brief, painless procedure involves the doctor placing a catheter that has been loaded with a selected number of embryos by the Embryologist, through the cervix and into the uterus to deposit the embryos. When possible Blastocyst transfers are done, which occur around day five of embryonic growth. Blastocyst transfers allow a more mature embryo to be transferred, allowing the Embryologist to select fewer embryos for transfer, achieving a high pregnancy rate with a lower risk of multiple gestations above twins. Occasionally, cleavage stage, day three of embryonic growth transfer are done at they recommendation of the Embryologist based on the quality of the embryo.

Understanding IVF Success Rates

Most patients understandably want to know what is the success rate for each doctor and facility. However, success rates can be confusing and misleading at times. A very good facility and doctor may have average to good numbers compared to another’s excellent numbers. There may be valid reasons for the differences. Some facilities and doctors prescreen patients and select only those with a high probability of success of achieving pregnancy, therefore maintaining an excellent success rate. This prescreening often discourages patients who have an average to lower chance of conceiving their own biological child. A facility that takes patients with complicated medical histories such as previous failures at another program, prolonged unexplained infertility, abnormal testing, or patients age 38 and older may have a lower overall success rate because they have a different mix of patients who present with a more difficult challenge. The facility that takes a broader spectrum of patients with lower numbers may actually be the better facility.

Fertility Success Rates

Our effective treatments have resulted in very high fertility success rates among patients of our Houston practice.

Dr. Kristiansen feels that following a complete evaluation and frank discussion of the probability of achieving a successful pregnancy and the associated costs, it is the patient’s decision. Her overall success rate compares very well nationally, particularly with the over age 35 population. It is important to note that the average patient without infertility problems has only a 20 percent chance of pregnancy per cycle under ideal circumstances.

SART

Participation in SART, where numbers are reported annually but not posted until almost three years later through the CDC website, is one way to measure a facility's success rate. However, keep in mind again that the patient population medical history may be more selective from center to center. Many physicians and IVF lab facilities report together while others report separately.

Our History

Photo of smiling babyThe first in-vitro fertilization cycle at Houston Fertility Center began in January 2002 and 175 cycles were completed for the calendar year with an overall success rate that compared very well nationally.

Important Factors to Consider

When choosing a physician or IVF lab facility it is important to look at all aspects of your treatment. Compare the total costs and beware of hidden fees. Be willing to spend your own money wisely to get the best medical care possible. Receiving the best medical care possible is important. Ask your OB/GYN or family doctor for a referral. Ask friends, family, and co-workers who they recommend. Look for board certification of doctors and laboratory personnel (Embryologist/Andrologist). Verify the persons listed are actually there on site performing your procedures, not overseeing from another facility. Avoid gimmicks, ask questions, read, be a good consumer.

Cost of IVF

To make IVF treatment more accessible to our patients, we offer a special pricing for standard IVF. We also offer INVOcell™, a variation on the standard IVF procedure, for $5,000.. Several factors can influence the number of IVF or INVOcell rounds hopeful parents require, including age, specific fertility issues, and the use of donor sperm or eggs. In addition to our already low standard pricing, the Houston Fertility Center offers discounted price packages for patients without IVF insurance coverage, and we can bundle services at discounted rates. During a private consultation, Dr. Kristiansen can explain IVF cost and what you can expect to pay for fertility treatment. 

INVOcell: A Cost-Effective Alternative

This new technology involves retrieving a woman’s egg, combining it with sperm in an INVOcell device, and placing the device within her vagina instead of performing incubation in a lab. After embryonic development is underway, the device is removed, the embryos are carefully surveyed for viability, and the healthiest are implanted in the woman’s uterus. The cost savings are due to the eliminated need for lab incubation. This option is usually only available to a patient who plans to use her own eggs and transfer them to herself. 

We believe in taking great care to provide a careful analysis that determines the surest way to help you realize your dreams of parenthood. This approach has made many hopeful parents' investment in family building something that rewards them for the rest of their lives.

IVF Cost Factors

Beyond the per-cycle costs of IVF, one of the most significant cost factors is the use of sperm or egg donation (INVOCell is not offered to most patients using donor eggs). If you choose to use sperm or eggs acquired from an anonymous donor through an agency, this will increase the overall cost of your treatment. If hopeful parents choose to use an agency to find a surrogate as part of their fertility treatment, this will also add to the overall cost.

The number of IVF and INVOCell treatments you require will also affect the cost of treatment. Generally speaking, once a woman has aged past her mid-thirties, it will become increasingly difficult to conceive and carry a child to term, potentially requiring more IVF or INVOCell rounds than a younger woman. Men also face age-related fertility difficulties, with sperm quality beginning to decline around age 40. This can require additional diagnostics and testing, which will affect the overall cost of growing your family.

Time Is Running Out

Houston Fertility Center is the first clinic in Houston to offer INVOcell – a new, revolutionary and affordable treatment option for $5,000 per cycle! This cycle includes ICSI, Laser Assisted Hatching and Embryo Cryopreservation. Medication costs vary depending on the type of medication and dosage. Schedule a consultation for details!

We are also proud to now offer Natural Cycle INVOcell, Reciprocal INVOcell and PGS/PGD with INVOcell. Call for details and schedule your consultation today to learn more.
 

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