In vitro Fertilization Procedure

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In vitro Fertilization
In vitro Fertilization Procedure

Although specifics may vary from clinic to clinic, the following five steps outline the general procedure for in vitro fertilization.   Note that only four of the steps involve the patient; the third (middle) step takes place in the IVF laboratory.   It is generally during this middle step of the procedure when a clinic will apply techniques related to other infertility treatment options (such as ICSI or AEC).


On the third day of a woman’s menstrual cycle, a clinic puts her on a drug protocol (largely injections) lasting about ten days.  These drugs achieve three things:

they stimulate follicle development within the ovaries
they convince the ovaries to produce more than one egg, and
they prevent ovulation by blocking the necessary hormones.
Throughout this process, the clinic will use blood tests and vaginal ultrasound scans to monitor developments within the ovaries.


When the test results indicate follicle development is nearly complete, the woman receives a hormone injection that helps her eggs mature.

About 36 hours later, the clinic collects those eggs in a 20-30 minute procedure called transvaginal oocyte retrieval.   While the woman is under some form of sedation, doctors use ultrasound to guide a needle through the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries, from which they extract follicular fluid (containing eggs).

At this time, the man will provide a fresh sperm sample


An IVF laboratory prepares each egg by removing the zona pellucida, or outer shell.  They prepare the sperm in a process referred to as ‘washing’, in which they remove the seminal fluid and keep only the healthiest sperm.

They incubate the eggs and the sperm together in a single petri dish and await fertilization (18 hours).  After this they move the embryos to another dish and monitor them for the next 48 hours.


The woman now undergoes a 20-30 minute procedure called embryo transfer.  The clinic uses a catheter inserted through her vagina and cervix to release the embryo (or embryos) into her uterus.

While this procedure may cause discomfort and some cramp-like pain, it does not generally require any sedation.

Waiting Game

The next fourteen days represent little more than a waiting game, and for this reason they may be the toughest.  The woman may (or may not) be put on a medication protocol, and after two weeks she returns to the clinic for the all-important pregnancy test, which will determine whether or not the procedure was successful does not make treatment recommendations nor dispense medical advice; only a physician or heath care provider is qualified to determine the proper treatment for any patient.  The treatment options are presented for general education purposes only.

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