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What is In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization, commonly known as IVF, is one of the most common ways that families who are experiencing infertility are able to conceive children. In fact, as of April 2017, over a million babies have been born through IVF in the United States. At Park Avenue Fertility, we use the most cutting edge technology throughout the fertility process to help our patients achieve a successful pregnancy.

The IVF Process

In Vitro Fertilization occurs in four main steps: ovarian stimulation, egg (oocyte) retrieval, fertilization and embryo growth, and transfer of the embryo. This process takes several weeks to complete, and our Park Avenue Fertility team will be with you through each step of the process.

Ovarian Stimulation

Ovarian stimulation is achieved through hormonal injections. Birth control pills are used to suppress the ovaries prior to beginning stimulation, which starts in the first 3 days of menstruation. Following this, patients will begin taking fertilization medications, which contain follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and/or luteinizing hormone (LH).

Because hormonal injections affect the patient’s body, close monitoring through bloodwork and ultrasound are performed to monitor the growth of the follicles that contain the eggs.  Injections, however, only occur for 8-13 days to achieve optimal follicular growth and development.  Once ovarian follicle size and estradiol reach mature levels, the egg maturation is then triggered with a timed injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) at night.  Injection times are assigned by the doctor. The hCG injection assures us that the eggs we retrieve are mature and able to be fertilized, thus improving the chances of a successful pregnancy.

Egg Retrieval

Approximately 36 hours after the hCG injection, ultrasound-guided egg retrieval begins.  Under light sedation, a needle is inserted into the vaginal wall.  A single puncture through the vagina on each side is followed by puncture and drainage of all ovarian follicles. The fluid and eggs are then passed to the awaiting embryologist.

Fertilization

After the eggs are retrieved, they are isolated from surrounding cells and mixed with sperm from either a male partner or a chosen donor.  The eggs and sperm are then placed into a culture that mimics the natural environment in the fallopian tubes.  The developing embryo grows in a tightly controlled environment for 5 days.

Transferring the Embryo

Once the embryo is deemed suitable for insertion, the embryo is transferred into the uterus using a flexible catheter that is passed through the cervix. Transferring the embryo is a minimally invasive process that does not require anesthesia.  Though more than one embryo is sometimes implanted, most patients receive one fertilized embryo at a time during the transfer process. Following the transfer, patients take progesterone and, after 14 days, a pregnancy test is performed.

For more information, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us.

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