The direct translation of in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the fertilization of the egg outside the body. The process has evolved drastically since it was first started in the 1970s. There are many components that are required for an IVF cycle to be successful.
The first step in the process is to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries. To ensure that enough eggs mature, FSH medications are used to stimulate the ovaries. Blood tests and ultrasounds are used to confirm the growth of several eggs and, when they reach the proper size, a trigger medication is administered.
Approximately 35 hours after the trigger medication is injected, an ovum retrieval is performed. This procedure is done in an operating room and the woman is either sedated or put to sleep (rarely). It is a short procedure that most patients tolerate well. Patients must bring someone with them on the day of ovum retrieval as driving is not permitted for 24 hours after the procedure.
The eggs will remain in an incubator for a few hours after retrieval to allow for more growth before fertilization. During this time, the sperm is prepared in the lab. Later that day, the eggs and sperm are mixed together and observed every 24 hours. If the embryos survive and grow to a proper size, they can be used for an embryo transfer.