In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a procedure that offers hope to couples who otherwise are unable to conceive. This process is important to infertile couples because it gives them another chance of conceiving a child. In order for normal pregnancy to occur, an egg is released from an ovary and unites with a sperm in a fallopian tube. However, during the process of IVF, this union occurs in a laboratory after both eggs and sperm have been collected. The fertilized egg is then transferred into the uterus to continue growth. Tens of thousands of healthy children born into this world are the results of IVF. Nevertheless, it is important for anyone considering IVF to fully understand the process as well as its limitations.
There are six major steps in the in vitro fertilization process: monitoring the development of ripening eggs in a woman’s ovaries, collecting the eggs, collecting the sperm, incubation of the egg and sperm in a laboratory, transferring the embryo to the uterus, and waiting for pregnancy or menstruation. When a couple is unable to conceive, another woman must donate her eggs to the couple in order for IVF to succeed. To retrieve eggs from the donor, an IVF doctor will first treat the donor with fertility drugs to control the timing of the egg release and the chance of collecting more than one egg. This process is called "super ovulation". The egg follicles are then monitored through an ultrasound for four to five days. After at least three follicles have reached a diameter of
seventeen millimeters on ultrasound, another hormone called Human Chorionic Gonadotropin is administered to initiate the final maturation of eggs.
The donor is now ready for the egg retrieval process. She is asked to come in one hour prior to the scheduled egg retrieval. The woman puts on a hospital gown while tranquilizers and antibiotics are given through an intravenous line. The cervix is also frozen with a local anesthetic to reduce the pain of the procedure. The doctor will attach an aspiration needle to the ultrasound probe and advance it though the vagina into the follicles of the ovary. The follicle fluid and eggs are aspirated into a test tube and given to a laboratory personnel to search for eggs. The woman may leave in about two hours after the sedatives have worn off.
The In Vitro Fertilization step...