IVF: During IVF, medications are usually taken for around 10 days to grow a large number of eggs. Once many eggs have developed, a procedure takes place where the eggs are removed from the ovaries. The eggs are then fertilized outside of the body in a lab. After growing for a few days in the lab, an embryo is transferred back into the woman’s uterus. 
The Rand Consulting Group has estimated there to be 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States in 2006.[83] The advantage is that patients who fail to conceive may become pregnant using such embryos without having to go through a full IVF cycle. Or, if pregnancy occurred, they could return later for another pregnancy. Spare oocytes or embryos resulting from fertility treatments may be used for oocyte donation or embryo donation to another woman or couple, and embryos may be created, frozen and stored specifically for transfer and donation by using donor eggs and sperm. Also, oocyte cryopreservation can be used for women who are likely to lose their ovarian reserve due to undergoing chemotherapy.[84]

In the laboratory, for ICSI treatments, the identified eggs are stripped of surrounding cells (also known as cumulus cells) and prepared for fertilisation. An oocyte selection may be performed prior to fertilisation to select eggs that can be fertilized, as it is required they are in metaphase II. There are cases in which if oocytes are in the metaphase I stage, they can be kept being cultured so as to undergo a posterior sperm injection. In the meantime, semen is prepared for fertilisation by removing inactive cells and seminal fluid in a process called sperm washing. If semen is being provided by a sperm donor, it will usually have been prepared for treatment before being frozen and quarantined, and it will be thawed ready for use.
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.
Odds of multiples. Because more than one embryo may be placed in your uterus, your chance of having twins or more is about 20 percent. Though many couples consider this a blessing, multiple fetuses increase your risk of miscarriage and other complications, such as preterm labor. Some doctors will advise you to consider selective reduction if three or more embryos implant successfully. This is a serious decision with major emotional and psychological consequences. IVF researchers are working on techniques to prevent multiple fetuses.
IUI: An IUI can be done with no medications or a number of different medications to help develop and ovulate one or two eggs. Around day 14 of a woman’s cycle, the insemination takes place which deposits sperm inside the uterus. This greatly increases the number of sperm at the junction of the uterus and fallopian tubes, the distance they have to swim to meet the egg, and thus increases the chances of natural conception for many people.
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.
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.
Other health related problems could also cause poor egg health, low ovarian reserve, or abnormal immunological responses, which can affect conception. Stress could also play a role. We all know that menstrual cycles can be altered during times of extreme duress- and this can be emotional, physical, or environmental stressors. In these instances, the first steps should be to avoid life stressors, maintain a healthy weight, routinely exercise, avoid smoking, and reduce alcohol intake, all of which may be contributing to unexplained infertility issues.

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.

^ Siristatidis C, Sergentanis TN, Kanavidis P, Trivella M, Sotiraki M, Mavromatis I, Psaltopoulou T, Skalkidou A, Petridou ET (2012). "Controlled ovarian hyperstimulation for IVF: impact on ovarian, endometrial and cervical cancer—a systematic review and meta-analysis". Human Reproduction Update. 19 (2): 105–23. doi:10.1093/humupd/dms051. PMID 23255514.
Success rates for IVF depend on a number of factors, including the reason for infertility, where you're having the procedure done, and your age. The CDC compiles national statistics for all assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures performed in the U.S., including IVF, GIFT, and ZIFT, although IVF is by far the most common; it accounts for 99% of the procedures. The most recent report from 2016 found:
Laboratories have developed grading methods to judge ovocyte and embryo quality. In order to optimise pregnancy rates, there is significant evidence that a morphological scoring system is the best strategy for the selection of embryos.[72] Since 2009 where the first time-lapse microscopy system for IVF was approved for clinical use,[73] morphokinetic scoring systems has shown to improve to pregnancy rates further.[74] However, when all different types of time-lapse embryo imaging devices, with or without morphokinetic scoring systems, are compared against conventional embryo assessment for IVF, there is insufficient evidence of a difference in live-birth, pregnancy, stillbirth or miscarriage to choose between them.[75] Active efforts to develop a more accurate embryo selection analysis based on Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning are underway. Embryo Ranking Intelligent Classification Assistant (ERICA),[76] is a clear example. This Deep Learning software substitutes manual classifications with a ranking system based on an individual embryo's predicted genetic status in a non-invasive fashion.[77] Studies on this area are still pending and current feasibility studies support its potential.[78]
Men will need to have sperm testing. This involves giving a semen sample, which a lab will analyze for the number, size, and shape of the sperm. If the sperm are weak or damaged, a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be necessary. During ICSI, a technician injects sperm directly into the egg. ICSI can be part of the IVF process.
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.
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.
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.

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.


Sunni Muslim nations generally allow IVF between married couples when conducted with their own respective sperm and eggs, but not with donor eggs from other couples. But Iran, which is Shi'a Muslim, has a more complex scheme. Iran bans sperm donation but allows donation of both fertilised and unfertilised eggs. Fertilised eggs are donated from married couples to other married couples, while unfertilised eggs are donated in the context of mut'ah or temporary marriage to the father.[176]
The educational health content on What To Expect is reviewed by our medical review board and team of experts to be up-to-date and in line with the latest evidence-based medical information and accepted health guidelines, including the medically reviewed What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff. This educational content is not medical or diagnostic advice. Use of this site is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy. © 2020 Everyday Health, Inc
Success rates for IVF also vary according to individual circumstances, with the most significant factor again being the age of the woman. At RMA, the likelihood of live birth after transfer of a single, genetically normal blastocyst is 60-65% on average. It is a legal requirement in the US for success rates of fertility clinics to be reported to the CDC. This includes live birth rates and other outcomes. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology also reports on these statistics. All of our RMA clinics report their results individually and you can check them in the published data. You should remember that results for different clinics are not always comparable with each other because of differences in the patient base.
Apart from poor egg quality at advanced maternal age, older women are also less likely to respond to ovarian stimulation hormones that cause the release of multiple eggs. Being able to produce a dozen of eggs significantly increases the odds of success. It allows your fertility practitioner to choose the egg with normal genetic makeup and best likelihood of implantation. In both nature and IVF, not all eggs are suitable to produce a pregnancy. Ideally, you would produce 8-15 eggs after ovarian hyperstimulation so that some of them are genetically normal and perfectly matured.
A surge in LH triggers your ovaries to release an egg. The surge usually happens 36 hours before the egg is released. Ovulation kits check LH levels in your urine to help you pinpoint the day of ovulation. These kits, which you can buy at the drugstore, are convenient and highly accurate. You may want to test 1-2 days before you expect the surge so you can note the rise in LH.

We know this is a touchy subject, but unfortunately, there’s no way around it. Science says that age does play a role in fertility. This 2018 study correlated age as a statistically significant factor in secondary infertility compared to primary infertility. In the study, the average age of couples was higher among those experiencing secondary infertility.


For any woman or couple facing infertility, the task of deciding on your next steps can feel very daunting. Of course, there’s no substitute for the advice of a fertility specialist, but a general idea of what to expect can help give you confidence. You might be wondering what is the difference between In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and  IUI, or artificial insemination?

IVF has many steps, and it takes several months to complete the whole process. It sometimes works on the first try, but many people need more than 1 round of IVF to get pregnant. IVF definitely increases your chances of pregnancy if you’re having fertility problems, but there’s no guarantee — everyone’s body is different and IVF won’t work for everyone.
Another major cause of infertility in women may be the inability to ovulate. Malformation of the eggs themselves may complicate conception. For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome is when the eggs only partially develop within the ovary and there is an excess of male hormones. Some women are infertile because their ovaries do not mature and release eggs. In this case synthetic FSH by injection or Clomid (Clomiphene citrate) via a pill can be given to stimulate follicles to mature in the ovaries.

4. IVF or In-Vitro Fertilization - IVF means eggs are collected and fertilized outside the body, in a laboratory. This is followed by transferring the embryos into the uterus. This advanced technology has resulted in many successful pregnancies in women who had lost hope. During IVF - In-Vitro Fertilization, women can choose to freeze their healthy eggs for future use.
Egg retrieval and sperm collection – Egg retrieval happens 35 hours after the trigger shot. It is done under light anesthesia and takes just 5-10 minutes. During retrieval, a tiny hollow needle is pierced through the vaginal wall towards an ovary. At this point, the fluid that contains the developed eggs is drained from the follicles and immediately taken to the IVF laboratory, where they will be fertilized and developed. Sperm is collected the same day as the procedure by ejaculation into a sterile specimen container, frozen ahead of time, via a donor, or through more advanced sperm retrieval procedures. Next, the sperm is washed, placed in a solution similar to the fallopian tubes, and used for fertilization.
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.

It’s not because you just ate a whole lot of greasy food (myth!). Sudden, out-of-control acne could be blamed on fluctuating hormones (from your period or menopause), a whole lot of stress, or a medication side effect. It may also be a sign of polycystic ovarian syndrome. That’s because in women with PCOS, ovaries make more androgen—the “male hormone”—than normal. Elevated levels may lead to adult acne flare-ups, as well as excessive facial or body hair, and even male-patterned baldness. These natural acne remedies may help your skin.
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]

From the What to Expect editorial team and Heidi Murkoff, author of What to Expect Before You’re Expecting. Health information on this site is based on peer-reviewed medical journals and highly respected health organizations and institutions including ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics), as well as the What to Expect books by Heidi Murkoff.
^ Tan K, An L, Miao K, Ren L, Hou Z, Tao L, Zhang Z, Wang X, Xia W, Liu J, Wang Z, Xi G, Gao S, Sui L, Zhu DS, Wang S, Wu Z, Bach I, Chen DB, Tian J (March 2016). "Impaired imprinted X chromosome inactivation is responsible for the skewed sex ratio following in vitro fertilization". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 113 (12): 3197–202. Bibcode:2016PNAS..113.3197T. doi:10.1073/pnas.1523538113. PMC 4812732. PMID 26951653.
In egg donation and embryo donation, the resultant embryo after fertilisation is inserted in another woman than the one providing the eggs. These are resources for women with no eggs due to surgery, chemotherapy, or genetic causes; or with poor egg quality, previously unsuccessful IVF cycles or advanced maternal age. In the egg donor process, eggs are retrieved from a donor's ovaries, fertilised in the laboratory with the sperm from the recipient's partner, and the resulting healthy embryos are returned to the recipient's uterus.
Infertility may have psychological effects. Partners may become more anxious to conceive, increasing sexual dysfunction.[17] Marital discord often develops, especially when they are under pressure to make medical decisions. Women trying to conceive often have depression rates similar to women who have heart disease or cancer.[18] Emotional stress and marital difficulties are greater in couples where the infertility lies with the man.[19]
Ovarian stimulation with hormonal medication is performed over a period of around 10-14 days. During this time, progress is monitored through ultrasound scans and blood tests. When enough oocytes (eggs) have developed in the ovaries, a final hormone injection triggers the maturing of the oocytes. Thirty-six hours later, egg retrieval is scheduled to take place in the fertility clinic.
If you fit one of these profiles, your fertility team may agree that it makes sense to attempt IUI before considering IVF. Before you begin IUI, it’s good to have a conversation with your partner and doctor about how many cycles you want to attempt. Many people place a limit of three failed IUI cycles, but others may try up to six before moving on.
Book an appointment with Miss Despina Mavridou for any general infertility concerns, preconception advice, fertility consultation, ovarian reserve screening, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, follicle tracking (natural and treatment cycle), ovulation induction, fertility assessment and fertility preservation-egg freezing, intrauterine insemination, IVF and HyCoSy.
Prior to the retrieval procedure, you will be given injections of a medication that ripens the developing eggs and starts the process of ovulation. Timing is important; the eggs must be retrieved just before they emerge from the follicles in the ovaries. If the eggs are taken out too early or too late, they won't develop normally. Your doctor may do blood tests or an ultrasound to be sure the eggs are at the right stage of development before retrieving them. The IVF facility will provide you with special instructions to follow the night before and the day of the procedure. Most women are given pain medication and the choice of being mildly sedated or going under full anesthesia.
Ovarian reserve testing. To determine the quantity and quality of your eggs, your doctor might test the concentration of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estradiol (estrogen) and anti-mullerian hormone in your blood during the first few days of your menstrual cycle. Test results, often used together with an ultrasound of your ovaries, can help predict how your ovaries will respond to fertility medication.

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.
The ultrasound is to check the size of your ovaries. Your doctor will also look for ovarian cysts. If there are cysts, your doctor will decide how to deal with them. Sometimes your doctor will just delay treatment for a week. Most cysts resolve on their own with time. In other cases, your doctor may aspirate the cyst (suck out the fluid) with a needle.
4. IVF or In-Vitro Fertilization - IVF means eggs are collected and fertilized outside the body, in a laboratory. This is followed by transferring the embryos into the uterus. This advanced technology has resulted in many successful pregnancies in women who had lost hope. During IVF - In-Vitro Fertilization, women can choose to freeze their healthy eggs for future use.
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