Having fertility issues may sometimes be a painful and heartbreaking journey. Fortunately, with today’s advances in medicine, it may still be possible to get pregnant with IVF. Let’s discover the IVF process together.
What are the steps of IVF?
Expecting the highest quality of care for your IVF treatment is the most natural expectation. You go through a fertility evaluation procedure before you begin IVF. Once you have completed this and you and your doctor have made the decision that the IVF journey is the next step, you go through the following steps:
- Pretreatment preparation
- IVF injections
- Egg collection process
- Sperm collection
- Embryo growth
- Embryo transfer
- Pregnancy test and pregnancy follow-up (1)
How is the embryo growth process?
Embryologists move your embryos to a unique growth dish the following morning after fertilizing your eggs to monitor their development. On days two and three, embryos will then be cultivated and examined once more.
When the blastocyst reaches the developmental stage, which typically occurs five days following conception, an embryo transfer is planned. On occasion, though, embryos may progress more slowly and reach this stage on the sixth or even seventh day following fertilization.
You and your doctor decide whether to store your embryos and transfer them later or to have a fresh embryo transfer.
Wanting to know as much as you can about your embryos while they are in the embryology lab is quite acceptable. Your embryologist will adjust the incubator’s conditions to promote your embryos’ growth and development, and they will call you once more to provide updates as things develop.
Typically, your embryologist will contact you on day 2 to provide an update and again on day 4 to provide a second update. You discuss the best time to implant (transfer) the embryos. (2)
How long does the IVF process take?
Each IVF cycle typically lasts 28 to 40 days (or longer), or the length of a typical ovulation cycle. Unfortunately, IVF does not come with any promises. For some people, it could take several cycles to achieve successful results. Everyone’s chances of becoming pregnant with IVF vary. To develop the right treatment plan for you, it is crucial to consult with an IVF fertility professional. (3)
What happens to the remaining embryos after transfer?
You are given options for what to do with the remaining viable embryos that won’t be transported to your uterus during the transfer. These options include the following:
The embryos may be frozen (freeze-stored) for a subsequent IVF embryo transfer. This option is only accessible for surplus embryos that have developed into blastocysts. If not, ongoing culture is provided.
You could decide to keep the embryos in culture and then freeze-dry store them to see if they progress to the blastocyst stage, which is the first step of embryonic development. For embryos that are still viable but have not yet developed into blastocysts, this option is advised.
You have the option of discarding the embryos. Cryo-stored embryos can be transferred in a different cycle and normally have equal implantation rates to fresh transfers, therefore this is not the preferred option. (4)
Keep in mind
Each IVF cycle counts as one round of treatment. The cycle begins on the first day of your period and concludes with a blood test for pregnancy. Each patient’s IVF process timeline may vary slightly depending on their requirements and health conditions.
Lattes, K., Checa, M. A., Vassena, R., Brassesco, M., & Vernaeve, V. (2017). There is no evidence that the time from egg retrieval to embryo transfer affects live birth rates in a freeze-all strategy. Human Reproduction, 32(2), 368-374.