In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

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In vitro fertilization is a method of infertility treatment in which IVF specialists combine the sperm and the egg (oocyte) in a laboratory dish for fertilization to occur. An IVF doctor then transfers the resulting embryo(s) to the uterus to develop naturally. IVF treatment offers the highest rate of success out of all the treatment options for infertility. It is also the most complex fertility treatment.

IVF has been successfully used for nearly three decades. Louise Brown, the first IVF baby (back then, she was referred to as the “test tube baby”), was born in 1978. Since then, technology and skills have become very advanced and fine-tuned. Accordingly, success rates for assisted reproductive technology (ART) have risen and are reported annually by members of the Society for Advanced Reproductive Technology. The latest national average rates for pregnancy resulting from IVF ranges from 17 percent for older women to 42 percent for women younger than 35 years. As with all medical treatments, success depends on many variables from patient to patient and even cycle to cycle. Hundreds of thousands of children have resulted from IVF treatment.

IVF was originally intended as a way for women with blocked fallopian tubes to conceive a child. Because of its success, IVF is now used to treat a number of other infertility causes. When combined with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), IVF therapy results in success even for men with severe male factor infertility. The use of donor sperm and donor eggs with IVF allows men and women who would otherwise not have a chance at pregnancy to experience the wonders of pregnancy, birth, and biological parenthood. IVF can also virtually suspend the “biological clock” by expediting the conception process for women in their late 30s and early 40s.

Conditions IVF Can Treat

Choosing an IVF Clinic

Patients want to be informed health care consumers. To that end, fertility specialists expect new patients to ask the following questions about the clinic’s services and success rates:

  • Pregnancy ratio per embryo transfer?
  • Pregnancy rate for couples who are in the same age range and with similar infertility causes?
  • Live birth rate for all couples who undergo IVF?
  • Rate of delivered twins or higher order multiples (triplets or more)?

 

Other questions to ask:

  • How much does the procedure cost, including fertility medications?
  • Does the clinic offer financial assistance programs such as loan financing or Attain IVF programs?
  • How much does cryopreservation and frozen embryo storage cost?
  • What are other related details, for example, is there a time limit on storage?
  • Does the clinic allow unused embryos to be donated to research or other infertile couples?
  • Does the clinic allow and perform disposal of unused embryos?
  • Is egg donation an option at this clinic, if necessary?

Dr. Louis Weckstein gives an overview of IVF