Infertility can be heartbreaking to experience. In the not-so-distant past, infertile women and their partners were usually encouraged to adopt. While there is nothing wrong with adopting a child, it is quite natural to want to birth your biological babies.
Women and couples struggling with infertility issues frequently investigate In vitro fertilization (IVF) on their hopeful journey toward parenthood. IVF is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) that is successful for many prospective parents.
What Happens During an IVF Procedure?
IVF treatment does not occur in a single event. Instead, it consists of a series of well-timed events designed to result in a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby. The first step of IVF treatment is the doctor harvesting eggs from the patient’s or donor’s ovaries.
Then, the harvested eggs are fertilized by sperm in a laboratory setting. Once fertilization has occurred, another procedure is done where the embryos are implanted in the woman’s uterus. Each IVF treatment is done over approximately 21 days. Not all women will get pregnant in their first IVF cycle, however.
How to Prepare for IVF Treatment
Infertility has many different origins, not all of which can be treated with IVF. That’s why extensive testing and screening must first be done, such as:
- Hormone-level monitoring via blood tests
- Ovarian ultrasound
- Semen analysis of the partner or donor
- Mock embryo transfer
- Uterine ultrasound, sonohysterography, and/or hysteroscopy
You may not need all of the above diagnostic and exploratory tests. Your IVF doctor will discuss the reason for each procedure they recommend.
Some IVF treatment providers like to offer their patients a holistic approach to the fertility process. The medical director at New Hope Fertility Long Island, Dr. Zaher-Merhi, MD, FACOG, HCLD, often encourages patients to embrace “holistic method[s] into [their] treatment, including local acupuncturists, yoga instructors, nutritionists, and support groups.”
Understanding the Risks
IVF treatment can be a bumpy, stress-inducing ride, especially when it requires multiple IVF treatment cycles. All surgical procedures, no matter how common or simple, carry inherent risks.
Below are some complications IVF patients can face:
- Low birth weight
- Premature delivery
- Birth defects
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Multiple births — often a welcome “complication!”
It’s important to note that natural pregnancies face those same risks, albeit typically at lower rates. But undergoing IVF treatment is not a decision to be made lightly. All risks should be assessed and evaluated by the patient and her doctor to make an informed decision.
Is IVF Treatment Worth It?
The procedure is costly and success cannot be guaranteed. Patients have to be mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared to undergo multiple IVF treatment cycles that ultimately might not succeed. But there is no price tag you can attach to the parents’ joy at the first cries of their newborn babies when IVF treatment works.
If IVF treatment is something you would like to try, learn as much as you can about the process so you can select the IVF treatment center that best meets your needs and fertility goals.