To begin considering IVF treatment, firstly, consult with your primary care physician, who will review your medical history and perform a physical examination. He will then most likely recommend some tests as well as some lifestyle changes. Your primary care physician can also refer you to a specialist in a hospital or a fertility clinic. When all of the preliminary steps are completed and the specialist indicates that you are ready to proceed with the IVF treatment, the real work begins.
You will meet with a personal fertility specialist during the scheduled consultation. He will want to know everything about your and your partner’s medical history, and you will need the necessary documents, which the doctor will inform you of. The specialist will walk you through the entire process and provide you with a plan complete with dates and timelines.
This step consists primarily of ovarian stimulation and a little bit of monitoring. A normal, natural ovulating cycle produces one egg per month, and the goal of an IVF cycle is to produce as many matured eggs as possible. More mature eggs improve your chances of an in vitro treatment success. This is why ovarian stimulation is carried out.
A hormone injection will be given to you a little more than a day before your eggs are scheduled to be extracted from your body. This will help your eggs mature quickly. The eggs will then be removed via a minor surgical procedure known as follicular aspiration. Egg retrieval is always performed in IVF under the standard protocols and recommended guidelines and aneasthesia.
After the eggs are collected, the embryologists begin the fertilization process, in which healthy sperm is isolated and exposed to the eggs in the laboratory, and fertilization occurs.
When you and your doctor agree on the number of embryos to transfer, the transfer catheter is loaded with that number of embryos. Finally, the transfer begins, with the catheter being inserted and the embryo being pushed into the uterus.
During IVF, there are two critical stages of development during which embryos can be transferred into the uterus.
A pregnancy test is performed 18 days after the egg retrieval; if the hCG level is greater than 100, the pregnancy is confirmed (but do not get scared a lot of pregnancies start with the hCG level below 100). The test is repeated after two or three days to determine whether or not the pregnancy was successful. Every two days, the hCG level should double. Once the second test is positive, a third and final test is performed to be certain, and an ultrasound is scheduled for about 6 weeks later. Until then, the doctor will look for a heartbeat to confirm the pregnancy.
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