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However, the more you understand about what's coming next, the more in control you'll feel. While every clinic's protocol will be slightly different and treatments are adjusted for a couple's individual needs, here is a step-by-step breakdown of what generally takes place during in vitro fertilization, as well as information on the risks, costs, and what’s next if your IVF treatment cycle fails.

In July 1978, Louise Brown was the first child successfully born after her mother received IVF treatment. Brown was born as a result of natural-cycle IVF, where no stimulation was made. The procedure took place at Dr Kershaw's Cottage Hospital (now Dr Kershaw's Hospice) in Royton, Oldham, England. Robert G. Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010. The physiologist co-developed the treatment together with Patrick Steptoe and embryologist Jean Purdy but the latter two were not eligible for consideration as they had died and the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously.[1][2]
One, two or three IVF treatments are government subsidised for women who are younger than 40 and have no children. The rules for how many treatments are subsidised, and the upper age limit for the women, vary between different county councils.[154] Single women are treated, and embryo adoption is allowed. There are also private clinics that offer the treatment for a fee.[155]
In general, the cost of IVF is higher than for IUI, but IVF confers the highest pregnancy rates per cycle. It is impossible to put a precise figure on the two treatments for comparison as much will depend on your personal treatment program. You can see some ballpark figures on the website of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. It also contains an overview of the differences between IUI and IVF.
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.
I had a wonderful experience at CHA Fertility Clinic and got pregnant on my first cycle.  My son will turn two this year and I immediately contacted them when we were thinking of having a second child.  The doctors and staff are so kind, informative, and helpful, and they really put my mind at ease.  We had looked at other fertility clinics … Read More
Certain kinds of IVF, in particular ICSI (first applied in 1991) and blastocyst transfer (first applied in 1984) have been shown to lead to distortions in the sex ratio at birth. ICSI leads to slightly more female births (51.3% female) while blastocyst transfer leads to significantly more boys (56.1% male) being born. Standard IVF done at the second or third day leads to a normal sex ratio.
Most women over 40 who try to get pregnant will have difficulty, and fertility over age 44 is rare - even in women who are ovulating regularly every month. The point is that the older the female partner, the more likely that there is an egg related issue causing the fertility problem. Unfortunately, there is currently no specific test for "egg quality".
A genetic disorder. If you or your partner is at risk of passing on a genetic disorder to your child, you may be candidates for preimplantation genetic testing — a procedure that involves IVF. After the eggs are harvested and fertilized, they're screened for certain genetic problems, although not all genetic problems can be found. Embryos that don't contain identified problems can be transferred to the uterus.

Infertility can have a profound impact on one’s mental health. When men and women find out that they can’t conceive, they may experience the same painful emotions as anyone coping with grief or profound loss. Common reactions include shock, frustration, grief, anger, decreased self-esteem, anxiety, and depression, but feelings about infertility can vary greatly depending on the source of the problems. Men, in particular, find it far easier to deal with a partner’s infertility than with their own.
Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is one of the simpler, “low-tech” treatments for infertility and the starting point for many individuals and couples who are having difficulty with conception on their own. Patients who have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, mild male factor infertility, a cervical factor, or irregular or absent ovulation are often good candidates for IUI.
In December 2015, the Ontario provincial government enacted the Ontario Fertility Program for patients with medical and non-medical infertility, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or family composition. Eligible patients for IVF treatment must be Ontario residents under the age of 43 and have a valid Ontario Health Insurance Plan card and have not already undergone any IVF cycles. Coverage is extensive, but not universal. Coverage extends to certain blood and urine tests, physician/nurse counselling and consultations, certain ultrasounds, up to two cycle monitorings, embryo thawing, freezing and culture, fertilisation and embryology services, single transfers of all embryos, and one surgical sperm retrieval using certain techniques only if necessary. Drugs and medications are not covered under this Program, along with psychologist or social worker counselling, storage and shipping of eggs, sperm or embryos, and the purchase of donor sperm or eggs.[151]
PCOS: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an ovarian issue that can cause irregular menstrual cycles and make it difficult for women to ovulate — a crucial part of the conception and pregnancy process. Women with PCOS do not release eggs regularly, and their ovaries often have many small cysts within. IVF is a strong option for women with PCOS, since it can help their bodies ovulate to achieve pregnancy.
Heavy, as in a pad and a tampon still doesn’t feel like enough. Certain medical conditions, like thyroid problems or kidney disease, can cause excessive menstrual bleeding, medications (such as anti-inflammatory drugs or anti-coagulants) may as well; or the reason may be a condition linked to infertility. In a normal menstrual cycle, the hormones estrogen and progesterone work together to regulate the buildup of the lining of the uterus—that’s the stuff that sheds during your period. But if, for example, your ovaries don’t release an egg, the dominoes are tipped: your body produces less progesterone, hormones become imbalanced, the lining in your uterus over-develops, and you end up bleeding extra heavily. Fibroids in your uterus can also cause heavier or longer-than-normal periods; some types of these benign tumors can block fallopian tubes or interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. Up to 10 percent of infertile women have fibroids, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. If you soak through at least one pad or tampon an hour for more than a few hours, see your doctor.  This is the worst health advice gynecologists have ever heard.
There are many studies comparing success rates between clomid, letrozole, or gonadotropins for patients with unexplained infertility, but two stand out as the best and most informative. The first study was conducted at multiple sites across the country and was termed the AMIGOS trial. In this study, gonadotropins produced the highest pregnancy rate, followed by clomid, and then letrozole. However, almost one third of all pregnancies in the gonadotropin arm was either a twin or triplet gestation. This was significantly higher than the clomid or letrozole arms.
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).
4. Significant Hair Growth (or Hair Loss): Polycystic ovarian syndrome causes small cysts to form on the outside of the ovaries, and it also causes the body to produce an excess of male hormones. If you notice hair growing in unusual places like your face, arms, chest or back, this could be a warning sign. On the flip side, hair loss or thinning could be a sign of other infertility related conditions like thyroid issues, anemia or autoimmune disorders.
A recent controversy in California focused on the question of whether physicians opposed to same-sex relationships should be required to perform IVF for a lesbian couple. Guadalupe T. Benitez, a lesbian medical assistant from San Diego, sued doctors Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton of the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group after Brody told her that she had "religious-based objections to treating her and homosexuals in general to help them conceive children by artificial insemination," and Fenton refused to authorise a refill of her prescription for the fertility drug Clomid on the same grounds.[111][112] The California Medical Association had initially sided with Brody and Fenton, but the case, North Coast Women's Care Medical Group v. Superior Court, was decided unanimously by the California State Supreme Court in favour of Benitez on 19 August 2008.[113][114]
These time intervals would seem to be reversed; this is an area where public policy trumps science. The idea is that for women beyond age 35, every month counts and if made to wait another six months to prove the necessity of medical intervention, the problem could become worse. The corollary to this is that, by definition, failure to conceive in women under 35 isn't regarded with the same urgency as it is in those over 35.

Problems with the uterus: There are many conditions related to the uterus that can cause secondary infertility. Scarring can occur during a dilation and curettage (D&C) or Cesarean delivery that can create adhesions inside the uterus that interfere with future pregnancies Fibroids or polyps are benign (non-cancer) growths inside the uterus that can impair pregnancy. A retained placenta can cause infection and uterine scarring.


The AMIGOS study suggested that clomid provided the best balance of a high pregnancy rate with a reasonably low multiple rate among couples with unexplained infertility. However, the authors of the Huang study concluded that on balance letrozole was better. From our vantage point, given that clomid more commonly causes multiple eggs to be ovulated, it seems like the slightly better option between the two because the whole point of treatment in unexplained infertility patients is to increase the odds of delivery by increasing the number of eggs ovulated.
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%.
Along with being physically demanding, fertility treatments can also spark a roller-coaster of emotions each month, including hope, anger, disappointment, sadness, and guilt. Just the sight of a pregnant woman can evoke strong negative and stressful feelings. During this time, those struggling with infertility may pull away from friends and family who remind them of their difficulty with reproduction; some of their closest relationships may suffer.
If a physician believes infertility is a concern, a number of tests will be administered. For women, these may include ovulation testing, ovarian reserve testing, hormone testing, and hysterosalpingography (X-rays of the fallopian tubes) or other imaging tests. Assessing male infertility involves semen analysis, which examines the number of sperm, as well as their motility and morphology (shape). Other tests for men may include hormonal and genetic testing, testicular biopsy, and additional imaging.
Gene mutations in men and obscure viruses in women can cause infertility. Here’s a basic list of the most commonly known reasons men and women can’t get pregnant, plus four research studies that describe lesser known causes of male and female fertility problems. If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for more than a year,… Read More »Causes of Infertility for Men and Women Who Can’t Get Pregnant

Today, with assisted-reproductive technology, the chance of successful treatment is very good. Intrauterine insemination with superovulation is the simplest approach since it increases the chances of the egg and sperm meeting, but some patients may also need GIFT and IVF. IVF can be helpful because it provides information about the sperm's fertilizing ability; GIFT, on the other hand, has a higher pregnancy rate and is applicable in these patients since they have normal fallopian tubes.


Psychological factors: Studies on infertile groups of men and women have produced contradictory findings of the importance of psychological factors in causing infertility. Emotional disturbances undoubtedly appear to have some significance. This is only reasonable if you realize that the whole hormonal cycle, with its delicate adjustments, is controlled from the brain. This is an area which needs further investigation.
Intercourse must take place frequently, particularly before and around the time of ovulation, and the couple must have been trying to conceive for at least one year (6 months if the woman is over 35 years old). Using these criteria, about 10-20% of all infertile couples have unexplained infertility. However, the percentage of couples classified as having unexplained infertility will depend upon the thoroughness of testing and the sophistication of medical technology. 
IVF using no drugs for ovarian hyperstimulation was the method for the conception of Louise Brown. This method can be successfully used when women want to avoid taking ovarian stimulating drugs with its associated side-effects. HFEA has estimated the live birth rate to be approximately 1.3% per IVF cycle using no hyperstimulation drugs for women aged between 40–42.[63]
The stress of secondary infertility on an individual's life and relationships can be significant. It can be hard to find support from family and friends, especially when a woman or couple already has/have children. Sentiments such as, "you should be grateful for what you have," or, "just keep trying," almost never serve as useful advice or support. Couples and single parents can even experience resentment from other couples with infertility who are unable to even have their first child.
For five to six days following fertilization, the developing embryos are cultured in the laboratory until the blastocyst stage of development has been reached. This represents growth of about 200 cells. We at RMA culture embryos exclusively to the blastocyst stage, because published data demonstrates that extended embryo culture results in improved implantation rates and pregnancy outcomes. This means we will never do an embryo biopsy – or an embryo transfer – at three days, or anything less than the blastocyst stage.
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.
^ Jump up to: a b Moreton C (14 January 2007). "World's first test-tube baby Louise Brown has a child of her own". Independent. London. Retrieved 21 May 2010. The 28-year-old, whose pioneering conception by in-vitro fertilisation made her famous around the world. The fertility specialists Patrick Steptoe and Bob Edwards became the first to successfully carry out IVF by extracting an egg, impregnating it with sperm and planting the resulting embryo back into the mother
Since marriage is a contract between the wife and husband during the span of their marriage, no third party should intrude into the marital functions of sex and procreation. This means that a third party donor is not acceptable, whether he or she is providing sperm, eggs, embryos, or a uterus. The use of a third party is tantamount to zina, or adultery.
All pregnancies can be risky, but there are greater risk for women who are older and are over the age of 40. The older the women the riskier the pregnancy. As women get older, they are more likely to suffer from conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. If older women do conceive over the age of 40, their offspring may be of lower birth weight, and more likely to requires intensive care. Because of this, the increased risk is a sufficient cause for concern. The high incidence of caesarean in older mothers is commonly regarded as a risk.
The AMIGOS study suggested that clomid provided the best balance of a high pregnancy rate with a reasonably low multiple rate among couples with unexplained infertility. However, the authors of the Huang study concluded that on balance letrozole was better. From our vantage point, given that clomid more commonly causes multiple eggs to be ovulated, it seems like the slightly better option between the two because the whole point of treatment in unexplained infertility patients is to increase the odds of delivery by increasing the number of eggs ovulated.
This information is designed as an educational aid to patients and sets forth current information and opinions related to women’s health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care, nor does it comprise all proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for a treating clinician’s independent professional judgment. Read ACOG’s complete disclaimer.
Undergoing fertility treatment requires precise scheduling of frequent tests and procedures—a tricky proposition when you're a parent. "I've had to go to the doctor early in the morning three times a week for testing," says Bozinovich. "Who can you find to babysit at 7 a.m. on a weekday?" (The answer: a grandparent or, when all else fails, a nurse at the doctor's office.) Your instinct might be to keep your treatment a secret, but it can make your life easier to enlist a friend or relative to help with child care. Also, choose a doctor's office you're comfortable with. You'll be spending a lot of time there; a compassionate staff can make treatment easier.

^ Baker VL, Luke B, Brown MB, Alvero R, Frattarelli JL, Usadi R, et al. (September 2010). "Multivariate analysis of factors affecting probability of pregnancy and live birth with in vitro fertilization: an analysis of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology Clinic Outcomes Reporting System". Fertility and Sterility. 94 (4): 1410–6. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.07.986. PMID 19740463.

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