In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF has literally made possible thousands of healthy births from couples previously considered infertile. Long-range studies indicate there is no increased risk for birth defects or other abnormalities in children born from the procedure. HRC Fertility's IVF success rates exceed the national averages.
How IVF Works
IVF consists of a series of steps. It begins with ovulation induction. The female is given a drug, usually Lupron or Ganirelix, to stop ovulation. Ovulation cannot occur until an injection of hCG or luteinizing hormone (LH) is given, which allows the fertility doctor to control the IVF cycle.
Ovarian stimulation with IVF is accomplished by administering a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH: Gonal-F, Follistim, Bravelle, others), which directly stimulates the development of the ovarian follicles. Eggs are retrieved directly from the ovarian follicles.
IVF patients must come to one of our California fertility centers for ultrasound evaluations and blood tests to evaluate estradiol hormone measurements. Ultrasound is used to view follicular development, measure the endometrial lining and examine the uterus. Estradiol hormone measurements are an indication that healthy follicles are developing appropriately.
IVF egg retrieval is conducted using transvaginal guided ultrasound while the patient is under general anesthesia. A small needle is used to retrieve the eggs from the ovarian follicles and they are transferred to the embryologist who separates the eggs from the follicular fluid.
If IVF with ICSI is scheduled, a sperm will be inserted directly into each egg. Otherwise the eggs are exposed to the sperm in the lab and fertilization is allowed to occur.
Once the eggs are fertilized they become embryos and they are transferred to the incubator. In most IVF cycles the eggs will be incubated for 3-5 days. Often, embryos have differentiated into the blastocyst stage by day 5; blastocysts are heartier and more likely to implant and develop. For these reasons, fewer blastocysts can usually be transferred lowering the rate of multiple births.
IVF embryo transfer to the uterus occurs once the embryos mature. It's a painless procedure conducted at one of the HRC Fertility offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego County. The patient is given progesterone to insure proper endometrial (lining of the uterus) development. It must thicken and become more vascular to support the developing fetus.
Fertility drugs are available to treat many of the conditions that cause infertility, and many are known as "ovulation inducing" drugs.
Most patients should undergo a fertility workup prior to beginning any fertility drug treatment. There could be many causes of infertility in addition to ovulatory disorders, including endometriosis, tubal disease, cervical factor and others.
Also, fertility drug treatment should not be initiated until the male partner has undergone a semen analysis.