The main durations of embryo culture are until cleavage stage (day two to four after co-incubation) or the blastocyst stage (day five or six after co-incubation).[71] Embryo culture until the blastocyst stage confers a significant increase in live birth rate per embryo transfer, but also confers a decreased number of embryos available for transfer and embryo cryopreservation, so the cumulative clinical pregnancy rates are increased with cleavage stage transfer.[30] Transfer day two instead of day three after fertilisation has no differences in live birth rate.[30] There are significantly higher odds of preterm birth (odds ratio 1.3) and congenital anomalies (odds ratio 1.3) among births having from embryos cultured until the blastocyst stage compared with cleavage stage.[71]

The main durations of embryo culture are until cleavage stage (day two to four after co-incubation) or the blastocyst stage (day five or six after co-incubation).[71] Embryo culture until the blastocyst stage confers a significant increase in live birth rate per embryo transfer, but also confers a decreased number of embryos available for transfer and embryo cryopreservation, so the cumulative clinical pregnancy rates are increased with cleavage stage transfer.[30] Transfer day two instead of day three after fertilisation has no differences in live birth rate.[30] There are significantly higher odds of preterm birth (odds ratio 1.3) and congenital anomalies (odds ratio 1.3) among births having from embryos cultured until the blastocyst stage compared with cleavage stage.[71]
Availability of IVF in England is determined by Clinical commissioning groups. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends up to 3 cycles of treatment for women under 40 years old with minimal success conceiving after 2 years of unprotected sex. Cycles will not be continued for women who are older than 40 years old.[156] CCGs in Essex, Bedfordshire and Somerset have reduced funding to one cycle, or none, and it is expected that reductions will become more widespread. Funding may be available in "exceptional circumstances" – for example if a male partner has a transmittable infection or one partner is affected by cancer treatment. According to the campaign group Fertility Fairness at the end of 2014 every CCG in England was funding at least one cycle of IVF".[157] Prices paid by the NHS in England varied between under £3,000 to more than £6,000 in 2014/5.[158] In February 2013, the cost of implementing the NICE guidelines for IVF along with other treatments for infertility was projected to be £236,000 per year per 100,000 members of the population.[159]
This chart is US national average data on success rates per IVF cycle by female age for 2014. The dark blue line (triangles) shows pregnancy rates per cycle by age. The orange line (circles) shows live birth rates per cycle by age. The rate of singleton live births per cycle is shown by the light blue line. The difference between "pregnancy" rate and "live birth" rate is due to miscarriages.
IVF increasingly appears on NHS treatments blacklists.[160] In August 2017 five of the 208 CCGs had stopped funding IVF completely and others were considering doing so.[161] By October 2017 only 25 CCGs were delivering the three recommended NHS IVF cycles to eligible women under 40.[162] Policies could fall foul of discrimination laws if they treat same sex couples differently from heterosexual ones.[163] In July 2019 Jackie Doyle-Price said that women were registering with surgeries further away from their own home in order to get around CCG rationing policies.[164]
For couples who have no difficulty achieving a pregnancy, the natural chance of pregnancy per month of ovulation is largely dependent on the age of the woman. For women in their early 30s or younger, the natural pregnancy rate is about 20 to 25 percent per cycle. This drops off significantly through her mid-to late-30s; by her early 40s, the chance of pregnancy is about 5 percent per cycle. This age-related decrease is primarily due to a decline in the quality of the eggs within the ovaries.

In IVF, a woman is given more medications to develop lots of eggs. Ideally, they develop around 15 mature eggs. The eggs are removed from the ovaries, fertilized and developed in a lab for a number of days, and subsequently put back into the uterus as an early-stage embryo. While this may sound like a relatively minor difference, it leads to leads to a large number of noteworthy differences.
Many people have never heard the term "secondary infertility"; fewer understand it. I discovered it a year into my struggle to conceive a second child and fell on it, amazed. What I was undergoing had a name! I wrote it down and immediately felt better, as if the phrase exuded a talismanic power that might protect me from the likes of my neighbour.
Of course, if you have a history of infertility or any factors that might impede fertility, it makes sense to arm yourself with the right help right from the start. Once you make that appointment with a fertility specialist, you and your doctor will follow the same treatment plan that would be put into place if you were dealing with primary infertility.
Upwards of 30% of couples seeking fertility care are labeled with unexplained infertility. Given that over 50% of couples’ infertility struggles are at least partially attributable to the male, understanding the source of male infertility could allow for improved care. The limited set of male tests can only detect the major causes of infertility (i.e., azoospermia) leaving the less obvious factors invisible.
When weighing the options, the pros and cons of intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) will, of course, be explored fully in discussion with your physician. In general terms, you can expect IUI to be a simpler process, less invasive, and lower cost. Some fertility specialists recommend attempting one or more cycles of artificial insemination before moving to IVF but this does not apply to everyone. For example, for an older woman, to try artificial insemination first may take up valuable time and the recommendation could well be to move straight to IVF. But before you can compare the two treatments, you need to know what exactly you could expect from IVF.
From the patient experience perspective, IVF is a more time-consuming process overall, although the length of time before pregnancy is achieved varies greatly according to how many cycles are necessary. However, because IVF is a more direct and effective route to pregnancy than IUI, it is often a less time-consuming process. For example, a patient could spend many months trying to succeed at IUI, only to succeed during the first cycle of IVF. While many patients opt for IUI at the start of their fertility journey because it is less invasive and more affordable, success rates for IVF are considerably higher.
During the second half of your menstrual cycle, the hormone progesterone kicks in to help prepare the lining of your uterus for a fertilized egg. If the egg isn't fertilized and doesn't implant, it disintegrates, progesterone levels fall, and about 12 to 16 days later, the egg -- along with blood and tissues from the lining of the uterus -- is shed from the body. That process is menstruation. It usually lasts 3 to 7 days.
One in 8 couples (or 12% of married women) have trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy. Infertility is defined as the inability to get pregnant after regular sexual intercourse without the use of any contraceptive methods for 6 months for those 35 years old or over, or 12 months for those under 35.(1)  Under normal circumstances the ability to get pregnant is at the most 25% each month. This number declines over time and starts to decline more rapidly once a women reaches her thirties, so that by age 35, the likelihood of getting pregnant each month is down to about 15%, and by age 40 it’s down to less than 10%.
Obviously, if the same couple decides to have more children at age 38, the chances won't be 25% anymore; it is likely that they are about 10%, which translates into a reduced pregnancy chance. This does not mean the couple has become infertile. Since they weren't absolutely fertile at age 32, it is only logical that their pregnancy chances at 38 are so low.

How will you handle a multiple pregnancy? If more than one embryo is transferred to your uterus, IVF can result in a multiple pregnancy — which poses health risks for you and your babies. In some cases, fetal reduction can be used to help a woman deliver fewer babies with lower health risks. Pursuing fetal reduction, however, is a major decision with ethical, emotional and psychological consequences.
A woman normally produces one egg during each menstrual cycle. However, IVF requires multiple eggs. Using multiple eggs increases the chances of developing a viable embryo. You’ll receive fertility drugs to increase the number of eggs your body produces. During this time, your doctor will perform regular blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor the production of eggs and to let your doctor know when to retrieve them.
Monitoring of egg development is usually done with E2 and LH blood hormone tests and ultrasound scans of the ovaries to determine when the egg is mature. The ultrasound allows the physician to visualize the thickness of the uterine lining and the ovaries, more specifically the number of follicles within them. The bloodwork shows the trend of pre- to post-stimulation hormone levels; increased levels of estrogen indicate follicular development.
Complexity. IUI refers to one procedure. Prepared sperm is placed directly in the patient’s uterus when she is ovulating in order to aid fertilization. IUI may be performed in sync with a woman’s natural cycle or timed with fertility medications to stimulate ovulation. IVF, on the other hand, is a process which consists of several stages and requires more than one procedure: first the ovaries are stimulated using a series of fertility medications, then the patient undergoes egg retrieval in a day procedure under a mild anesthetic, then after embryos have been created and incubated in the lab, they are placed directly into her uterus in the embryo transfer procedure. Even with the use of fertility drugs, going through IUI is less physically demanding than undergoing IVF.
The eggs are retrieved in a simple process which takes about 15-20 minutes and is carried out in the doctor’s office under light sedation. The ovaries are accessed through the vaginal cavity and each of the follicles containing an egg is punctured. The fluid containing the eggs is aspirated through a very fine needle. The patient rests for a brief time and can then go home with an escort. Usually, the patient feels back to normal the day after.
The treatment options for unexplained infertility are several and the treatment results are promising. Expectant management can be recommended if the woman is under 28-30 years of age and the infertility duration is less than 2-3 years. In vitro fertilization (IVF) has revolutionized the treatment of infertile couples, as well as profoundly increasing the basic understanding of human reproduction. IVF can be used as both a diagnostic and a therapeutic tool in couples with unexplained infertility. The pregnancy rates with IVF are good, at 40% per treatment cycle. In addition, the outcome of pregnancies among women with unexplained infertility is generally comparable to that of spontaneous and other pregnancies using assisted reproductive technologies.
For women, intake of antioxidants (such as N-acetyl-cysteine, melatonin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, myo-inositol, zinc or selenium) has not been associated with a significantly increased live birth rate or clinical pregnancy rate in IVF according to Cochrane reviews.[30] The review found that oral antioxidants given to men in couples with male factor or unexplained subfertility may improve live birth rates, but more evidence is needed.[30]
Since each couple is unique in the cause of infertility, the answer as to whether ICSI or conventional IVF is more beneficial could vary. A retrospective cohort study published in 2015 is the most comprehensive study so far comparing the two strategies with different infertility factors, which will be the focus here1. A few other smaller-scale studies will also be discussed.
The severity or complexity of infertility for you and your partner as a whole is also critical. Generally, patients are characterized as “subfertile” if there is only one infertility factor such as mild endometriosis, which can be improved through surgeries like laparoscopy. However, if both partners contribute infertility factors or one partner has multiple infertility factors, the chance of IVF success is significantly decreased.

Initial blood work, cycle tracking and fertility analysis is done. To begin IVF, your doctor or fertility specialist will evaluate your hormone levels and menstrual cycle to determine what medications and plan of action may be needed. You may also undergo a transvaginal ultrasound to examine your ovaries and reproductive system, ensuring that they are healthy.


For most couples having difficulty achieving a pregnancy their chance of achieving a pregnancy is not zero, it is just lower than the average rate of conception—unless both Fallopian tubes are completely blocked, there is no sperm, or the woman never ovulates. Ovulation induction (or superovulation) with IUI helps patients to achieve pregnancy rates closer to the natural per cycle chance of pregnancy for women in their age group who do not have infertility (see fig 1).
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) occurs in 10% of women going through IVF treatment. For most women, symptoms will be mild, and they will recover easily. For a small percentage, OHSS can be more serious and may require hospitalization. Less than 1% of women going through egg retrieval will experience blood clots or kidney failure due to OHSS.
Theoretically, IVF could be performed by collecting the contents from a woman's fallopian tubes or uterus after natural ovulation, mixing it with sperm, and reinserting the fertilised ova into the uterus. However, without additional techniques, the chances of pregnancy would be extremely small. The additional techniques that are routinely used in IVF include ovarian hyperstimulation to generate multiple eggs, ultrasound-guided transvaginal oocyte retrieval directly from the ovaries, co-incubation of eggs and sperm, as well as culture and selection of resultant embryos before embryo transfer into a uterus.
Secondary infertility is the inability to become pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term after you’ve already had a baby, and it's more common than you might think, accounting for about 50 percent of infertility cases. In fact, more couples experience secondary infertility than primary infertility (infertility the first time around). It’s especially common in women who wait until their late 30s or even 40s, when fertility takes a nosedive, to have their second babies.
Our specialized team of andrologists prepare each sperm sample with a procedure commonly known as "sperm washing" in one of our andrology laboratories. Sperm washing involves placing the sperm sample in a test tube and then a centrifuge, which results in the sperm collecting in a "pellet" at the bottom of the test tube. The andrologist removes the seminal fluid and places the fluid (media) above the sperm. The most active sperm will then swim up into the media. The final sample consists of the most active sperm concentrated in a small volume of media. A single IUI is usually performed when a patient is using fresh sperm. If a patient is using a frozen sperm sample, the clinician can likely perform one or two IUIs.
Headaches and mood swings: Headaches and mood swings are common IVF treatment side effects. Over-the-counter medications can ease headaches, and while no medication can help with mood swings, knowing that they’re a normal part of IVF treatment helps. If you find mood swings are disrupting your day, be sure to seek out self-care practices such as enjoying alone time, reading a book, taking a nice bath, or sharing feelings with a friend or loved one.
Because not each IVF cycle that is started will lead to oocyte retrieval or embryo transfer, reports of live birth rates need to specify the denominator, namely IVF cycles started, IVF retrievals, or embryo transfers. The SART summarised 2008–9 success rates for US clinics for fresh embryo cycles that did not involve donor eggs and gave live birth rates by the age of the prospective mother, with a peak at 41.3% per cycle started and 47.3% per embryo transfer for patients under 35 years of age.
Those fearful of conceiving with multiples should strongly consider IVF and only transferring one embryo at a time. In these circumstances, just 1% of pregnancies lead to twins, and triplets are even more rare. Alternatively, 8 - 30% of medicated IUI pregnancies lead to twins. Finally, the least preferable circumstance is do to IVF with multiple embryo transfer, where in women under 38 years of age, 30% of pregnancies culminate in a multiple birth.
The grief and anxiety of SI is, of course, self-perpetuating. You find yourself in a double-bind: you're constantly told that the chances of conceiving are maximised if you can relax and eliminate stress, but it's hard to let go of something so all-consuming, so elemental, as infertility. People were always saying to me: "If you just forgot about it, you'd get pregnant straight away." For the record, this is the most unhelpful thing you can say to someone with fertility problems. West explains that "couples become more and more anxious about the gap [between children]".
The eggs are retrieved in a simple process which takes about 15-20 minutes and is carried out in the doctor’s office under light sedation. The ovaries are accessed through the vaginal cavity and each of the follicles containing an egg is punctured. The fluid containing the eggs is aspirated through a very fine needle. The patient rests for a brief time and can then go home with an escort. Usually, the patient feels back to normal the day after.
Next, we’ll look at data that compares PCOS patients who took clomid alone or clomid accompanied by IUI (no studies use letrozole, so we are forced to use a study with clomid). Clomid alone produced a 17% live birth rate after 3 cycles, while clomid plus IUI produced a 19% live birth rate. Investigators concluded there was no statistically significant difference.
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The major complication of IVF is the risk of multiple births. This is directly related to the practice of transferring multiple embryos at embryo transfer. Multiple births are related to increased risk of pregnancy loss, obstetrical complications, prematurity, and neonatal morbidity with the potential for long term damage. Strict limits on the number of embryos that may be transferred have been enacted in some countries (e.g. Britain, Belgium) to reduce the risk of high-order multiples (triplets or more), but are not universally followed or accepted. Spontaneous splitting of embryos in the womb after transfer can occur, but this is rare and would lead to identical twins. A double blind, randomised study followed IVF pregnancies that resulted in 73 infants (33 boys and 40 girls) and reported that 8.7% of singleton infants and 54.2% of twins had a birth weight of less than 2,500 grams (5.5 lb).[35]
A doctor or WHNP takes a medical history and gives a physical examination. They can also carry out some basic tests on both partners to see if there is an identifiable reason for not having achieved a pregnancy. If necessary, they refer patients to a fertility clinic or local hospital for more specialized tests. The results of these tests help determine the best fertility treatment.
Nadya Suleman came to international attention after having twelve embryos implanted, eight of which survived, resulting in eight newborns being added to her existing six-child family. The Medical Board of California sought to have fertility doctor Michael Kamrava, who treated Suleman, stripped of his licence. State officials allege that performing Suleman's procedure is evidence of unreasonable judgment, substandard care, and a lack of concern for the eight children she would conceive and the six she was already struggling to raise. On 1 June 2011 the Medical Board issued a ruling that Kamrava's medical licence be revoked effective 1 July 2011.[116][117] [118]

First, you take medication that makes several of your eggs mature and ready for fertilization. Then the doctor takes the eggs out of your body and mixes them with sperm in a lab, to help the sperm fertilize the eggs. Then they put 1 or more fertilized eggs (embryos) directly into your uterus. Pregnancy happens if any of the embryos implant in the lining of your uterus.
Insemination – This is done as close to the day of ovulation as possible. During insemination, washed and concentrated sperm is injected into the top of your uterus through a small catheter inserted through the vagina and cervix. Once injected, the catheter is removed. You can expect the insemination to take just a few minutes. It is possible to experience mild cramping post-procedure. The sperm used in your IUI can usually be collected at the office performing the IUI (preferred if possible), frozen and shipped to the center, collected fresh at your home and shipped to our centers using our sperm shipping kits (not advised), or ordered and sent to our office from a donor agency. Fresh semen samples are prepared in our laboratory to obtain a concentration of active sperm.
Cancer. Although some early studies suggested there may be a link between certain medications used to stimulate egg growth and the development of a specific type of ovarian tumor, more-recent studies do not support these findings. There does not appear to be a significantly increased risk of breast, endometrial, cervical or ovarian cancer after IVF.
Nowadays, there are several treatments (still in experimentation) related to stem cell therapy. It is a new opportunity, not only for partners with lack of gametes, but also for homosexuals and single people who want to have offspring. Theoretically, with this therapy, we can get artificial gametes in vitro. There are different studies for both women and men.[65]
Upwards of 30% of couples seeking fertility care are labeled with unexplained infertility. Given that over 50% of couples’ infertility struggles are at least partially attributable to the male, understanding the source of male infertility could allow for improved care. The limited set of male tests can only detect the major causes of infertility (i.e., azoospermia) leaving the less obvious factors invisible.
Have you considered the potential complications associated with using donor eggs, sperm or embryos, or a gestational carrier? A trained counselor with expertise in donor issues can help you understand the concerns, such as the legal rights of the donor. You may also need an attorney to file court papers to help you become legal parents of an implanted embryo.
The sperm and the egg are incubated together at a ratio of about 75,000:1 in a culture media in order for the actual fertilisation to take place. A review in 2013 came to the result that a duration of this co-incubation of about 1 to 4 hours results in significantly higher pregnancy rates than 16 to 24 hours.[70] In most cases, the egg will be fertilised during co-incubation and will show two pronuclei. In certain situations, such as low sperm count or motility, a single sperm may be injected directly into the egg using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). The fertilised egg is passed to a special growth medium and left for about 48 hours until the egg consists of six to eight cells.
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For couples who have no difficulty achieving a pregnancy, the natural chance of pregnancy per month of ovulation is largely dependent on the age of the woman. For women in their early 30s or younger, the natural pregnancy rate is about 20 to 25 percent per cycle. This drops off significantly through her mid-to late-30s; by her early 40s, the chance of pregnancy is about 5 percent per cycle. This age-related decrease is primarily due to a decline in the quality of the eggs within the ovaries.
Endometriosis implants are most commonly found on the ovaries, the Fallopian tubes, outer surfaces of the uterus or intestines, and on the surface lining of the pelvic cavity. They also can be found in the vagina, cervix, and bladder. Endometriosis may not produce any symptoms, but when it does the most common symptom is pelvic pain that worsens just prior to menstruation and improves at the end of the menstrual period. Other symptoms of endometriosis include pain during sex, pain with pelvic examinations, cramping or pain during bowel movements or urination, and infertility. Treatment of endometriosis can be with medication or surgery.
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