Infertility is a problem for many women around the world. For women who reach the age of 40 years old, only two out of every five will be able to conceive on their own. Younger women also have issues conceiving. The best ages for women to get pregnant, biologically, is between 20 and 24. Women who are between 29 and 33 can have a chance of becoming pregnant during any given month of between 20 and 25%. When women go to any of the fertility centers around the country, the in vitro fertilization (IVF) steps are often the same. For example the following is a pretty standard IVF timeline that you will go through when you are undergoing the IVF treatment process:
- The IVF timeline begins on the fist day of a woman’s menstrual cycle. While the process does involve some artificial manipulation of their ovaries, most infertility treatments work with your body. This makes it possible to use fewer hormones and chemicals. When you are undergoing IVF treatments you will be given both daily injections of Lupron and oral contraceptives to better regulate the levels of your hormones. The Lupron is given for about two weeks and the contraceptives are given for between two and four weeks.
- The next step of the IVF timeline is the stimulation of the ovaries. Once they are prepared by the Lupron and the contraceptives, different hormones are administered by your fertility expert. What hormone or hormones are used is determined by your specific needs. This is the stage where your ovaries are coaxed into releasing eggs. This step can be hard on your body and you may experience a variety of side effects. These can include some emotional changes. This step takes anywhere between eight and we days so you will not have too much time during this phase. The fertility clinic will closely monitor you during this process to make sure things are going the way they should. At the very end of this step, a dose of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) will be administered. This gets the ovary to release the eggs.
- Once the eggs are released, they need to be retrieved. Your fertility clinic will expect you to be back within 36 hours of receiving the HCG shot. You will have to be given general anesthesia for the retrieval procedure. The physician will use an ultrasound to retrieve your eggs. They will be able to tell you the number they are able to get during your procedure.
- After they have been retrieved, the eggs need to be fertilized. You do have several options. If you are in a relationship with a male partner, he can provide a sample in advance. Otherwise, a sample can be provided by a donor. Either way, this needs to be done within two days of the retrieval process. This is not an instant thing. A few days after they are fertilized, the eggs will be tested. Between one and two days after the tests are run, you will find out what the status is.
- If there are viable embryos in your groups of fertilized eggs, they need to be transferred back to your uterus. This is a much less invasive procedure than the one where your eggs were removed. Most IVF clinics will give you a sedative to help you relax but after everything else you have been through during the IVF timeline, this may seem pretty simple. In days past, a number of embryos would be transferred but today, most IVF doctors only transfer one. You can have any other viable embryos frozen.
- The last step in the IVF timeline is only hard psychologically. It can be very stressful to wait for the pregnancy test after the embryo transfer. The embryo does not immediately attach itself to the wall of your uterus. It can take up to a week for that to happen. Your body will not produce pregnancy hormones until this happens so you just have to wait. Most of the time, fertility clinics will check first at nine days and then again at 12 days.
The IVF process can be challenging and difficult but when it is successful, most people think it was all worth it.