Unlike the simpler process of artificial insemination -- in which sperm is placed in the uterus and conception happens otherwise normally -- IVF involves combining eggs and sperm outside the body in a laboratory. Once an embryo or embryos form, they are then placed in the uterus. IVF is a complex and expensive procedure; only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.
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.
In a bid to understand my chances of IVF success, I took a quick dive through the vast information available from these sources and came away thinking I had the information I needed. I skipped merrily along thinking things looked pretty promising after reading my chances of IVF working the first time was somewhere around the 40% mark. I naively thought that meant I had an 80% chance if I did two cycles, and that I’d definitely have a baby after three rounds at the most. Unfortunately as later reflection revealed, math and statistic just don’t work like this…
In some cases, laboratory mix-ups (misidentified gametes, transfer of wrong embryos) have occurred, leading to legal action against the IVF provider and complex paternity suits. An example is the case of a woman in California who received the embryo of another couple and was notified of this mistake after the birth of her son.[94] This has led to many authorities and individual clinics implementing procedures to minimise the risk of such mix-ups. The HFEA, for example, requires clinics to use a double witnessing system, the identity of specimens is checked by two people at each point at which specimens are transferred. Alternatively, technological solutions are gaining favour, to reduce the manpower cost of manual double witnessing, and to further reduce risks with uniquely numbered RFID tags which can be identified by readers connected to a computer. The computer tracks specimens throughout the process and alerts the embryologist if non-matching specimens are identified. Although the use of RFID tracking has expanded in the US,[95] it is still not widely adopted.[96]
When transferring more than one embryo, the risk of pregnancy and newborn complications also increases.1 Among IVF babies, twins are 12 times more likely than singletons to be delivered prematurely, 16 times more likely to be underweight and 5 times more likely to suffer from respiratory complications. Among IVF mothers, mothers of twins are 2.5 times more likely to have pre-eclampsia, over 8 times more likely to have premature preterm rupture of membranes and 4 times more likely to require a Caesarean section.
There are multiple strategies for causing ovulation in clomid or letrozole resistant patients. Some of these include adding medications such as dexamethasone or metformin to the treatment regimen. Another approach is changing to gonadotropin injections. Rather than tricking the brain into sending a stronger signal to the ovaries to cause follicle recruitment, gonadotropins directly stimulate the ovary to recruit multiple follicles.
Treatment with Clomid tablets plus IUI improves fertility rates. For unexplained infertility, studies have shown that for women under 35, monthly success rates for Clomid plus insemination are about 10% per cycle. This pregnancy rate holds up for about 3 tries and the success rate is considerably lower after that. More about success rates with IUIs is on the insemination page and on the Clomid for unexplained infertility page. The insemination component boosts fertility more than the Clomid does - but success rates are higher when both are used together.
He will need to produce a sperm sample the same day as your IUI. Drop-off is scheduled 1.5 hours before the IUI. The specimen should not be produced longer than 2 hours from appointment time. Patients are provided with a specimen cup so he can produce in the comfort of his home. If he chooses to use a collection room, that is also available in some SGF locations.
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.
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.
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.
The goal of this treatment is to increase the number of sperm that reach the Fallopian tube and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. IUI provides the sperm an advantage by giving it a head start, but still requires the sperm to reach and fertilize the egg on its own. Depending on your fertility diagnosis, IUI can be coordinated with your normal cycle or with fertility medications.
Once the embryos are ready, you will return to the IVF facility so doctors can transfer one or more into your uterus. This procedure is quicker and easier than the retrieval of the egg. The doctor will insert a flexible tube called a catheter through your vagina and cervix and into your uterus, where the embryos will be deposited. To increase the chances of pregnancy, most IVF experts recommend transferring up to three embryos at a time. However, this means you could have a multiple pregnancy, which can increase the health risks for both you and the babies.
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.
Time. The factor of time cuts both ways when you are weighing up these two options. IUI is a much shorter process than IVF, so if your first cycle is successful, it could be the quickest route to bringing home a baby. However, because of the gap in success rates between the two treatments, some patients in their late 30s to early 40s may get pregnant faster by going directly to IVF rather than waiting until they have had several failed IUI cycles.
There are multiple treatment options including using oral or injectable medications, intrauterine insemination (IUI), assisted reproductive technology using in vitro fertilization (IVF), or a combo of these solutions to help. A 2010 study called the FASTT trial indicated that in vitro fertilization might be the quickest and best route to pregnancy for couples with unexplained infertility.(4)
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
The laboratory – This is when the harvested eggs are fertilized by an embryologist. Once fertilized, they’re grown 3-5 days until they’re able to be transferred into the woman’s uterus. Prior to the transfer, the embryos can be genetically tested. Although testing isn’t right for everyone, it’s useful for some people as it may help prevent miscarriage, passing on known genetic disorders, and can also be used to choose the sex of the child.
During an infertility workup, you and your partner will be asked questions about your current health and medical history. "We're looking to see what might have changed from previous pregnancies," says Dr. Tan. "If we find something we can fix—say, removing scar tissue—we'll start there." Also expect blood work and ultrasounds to determine whether you're ovulating and to check your egg supply, an X-ray to look for blocked fallopian tubes, and a semen analysis to measure sperm count and quality.

Women who switch from IUI to IVF sooner or begin with IVF get pregnant quicker than those who stick or start with IUI. One study found that undergoing immediate IVF resulted in superior pregnancy rates with fewer treatment cycles compared to those who did two rounds of IUI before switching to IVF.  While the immediate IVF group got pregnant quicker, the overall success after up to 6 IVF cycles was similar.

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.

The second study by Huang et al. demonstrated nearly equivalent pregnancy rates between the three medications. Furthermore, the twin risk was not significantly elevated in any of the three groups. The key difference between these studies is that the dose of gonadotropins was higher in the AMIGOS study (150 units) than the Huang study (75 units). A higher dose often means more eggs ovulated and a greater risk of twins or more.


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
For women, problems with fertilisation arise mainly from either structural problems in the Fallopian tube or uterus or problems releasing eggs. Infertility may be caused by blockage of the Fallopian tube due to malformations, infections such as chlamydia or scar tissue. For example, endometriosis can cause infertility with the growth of endometrial tissue in the Fallopian tubes or around the ovaries. Endometriosis is usually more common in women in their mid-twenties and older, especially when postponed childbirth has taken place.[55]

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.
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.
Typically, genetic parents donate the eggs to a fertility clinic or where they are preserved by oocyte cryopreservation or embryo cryopreservation until a carrier is found for them. Typically the process of matching the embryo(s) with the prospective parents is conducted by the agency itself, at which time the clinic transfers ownership of the embryos to the prospective parents.[89]
As a result, most patients need to undergo multiple cycles, and as we pointed out in a another lesson, no cycle is as likely to succeed as the first one. Below is data out of the UK published in the Journal of The American Medical Association that illustrates that after a few cycles most younger patients succeed with IVF but that is not necessarily true for older patients.
Sometimes problems getting pregnant for a second or subsequent time are related to a complication that occurred in a prior pregnancy or prior to delivery (damage to the uterus, for instance). But most often, secondary infertility is caused by the same factors that would cause primary infertility — issues like advanced age, obesity, ovulation problems and so on.

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.


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.
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. 

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro ("in glass"). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a liquid in a laboratory. After the fertilised egg (zygote) undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, it is implanted in the same or another woman's uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.

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:
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.
High costs keep IVF out of reach for many developing countries, but research by the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology, in Belgium, claim to have found a much lower cost methodology (about 90% reduction) with similar efficacy, which may be suitable for some fertility treatment.[144] Moreover, the laws of many countries permit IVF for only single women, lesbian couples, and persons participating in surrogacy arrangements.[145] Using PGD gives members of these select demographic groups disproportionate access to a means of creating a child possessing characteristics that they consider "ideal," raising issues of equal opportunity for both the parents'/parent's and the child's generation. Many fertile couples[citation needed] now demand equal access to embryonic screening so that their child can be just as healthy as one created through IVF. Mass use of PGD, especially as a means of population control or in the presence of legal measures related to population or demographic control, can lead to intentional or unintentional demographic effects such as the skewed live-birth sex ratios seen in communist China following implementation of its one-child policy.

Infertility is a medical condition, and a fertility specialist can help with thorough, focused examinations directed at discovering the underlying cause. For every couple that begins an evaluation, about 35% discover that there is an issue with the man which is contributing to the couple’s infertility. 50% is related to female factor while 5% is due to rare causes. The remaining 10% (1 in 5 couples) is due to unexplained infertility despite completing a full infertility work-up.(2)
Infertility is a medical condition, and a fertility specialist can help with thorough, focused examinations directed at discovering the underlying cause. For every couple that begins an evaluation, about 35% discover that there is an issue with the man which is contributing to the couple’s infertility. 50% is related to female factor while 5% is due to rare causes. The remaining 10% (1 in 5 couples) is due to unexplained infertility despite completing a full infertility work-up.(2)
3-6 months of treatment with Clomid pills (clomiphene citrate) might improve fertility by as much as 2 times as compared to no treatment. This is a very low level infertility treatment. Infertility specialists do not usually recommend Clomid treatment( without insemination) for unexplained infertility for women over the age of about 35. Most fertility specialists do not use it (without IUI) on any couples with unexplained infertility. If a woman is already having regular periods and ovulating one egg every month, giving Clomid, which will probably stimulate the ovaries to release 2 or 3 eggs per month (instead of one) is not really fixing anything that is broken - and is not likely to be successful.
On or after the day of your retrieval, and before the embryo transfer, you'll start giving yourself progesterone supplements. Usually, the progesterone during IVF treatment is given as an intramuscular self-injection as progesterone in oil. (More shots!) Sometimes, though, progesterone supplementation can be taken as a pill, vaginal gel, or vaginal suppository.
A woman's age is a major factor in the success of IVF for any couple. For instance, a woman who is under age 35 and undergoes IVF has a 39.6% chance of having a baby, while a woman over age 40 has an 11.5% chance. However, the CDC recently found that the success rate is increasing in every age group as the techniques are refined and doctors become more experienced.
We don't know what causes most cases of secondary infertility, says Jamie Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., program director of the New York University Fertility Center, in New York City. "The majority of the time, though, it reflects the fact that you're older now, so it's simply more difficult to get pregnant." The reality is that for women, fertility peaks at age 25 and drops by half between ages 30 and 40. As we age, egg quality declines and we're more likely to develop fibroids and endometriosis, which contribute to infertility. Other factors such as adding extra weight, taking new meds, or having surgery since your last pregnancy can be an issue. It may also be that your partner's sperm quality or production is now poor.
The Latin term in vitro, meaning "in glass", is used because early biological experiments involving cultivation of tissues outside the living organism were carried out in glass containers, such as beakers, test tubes, or Petri dishes. Today, the scientific term "in vitro" is used to refer to any biological procedure that is performed outside the organism in which it would normally have occurred, to distinguish it from an in vivo procedure (such as in vivo fertilisation), where the tissue remains inside the living organism in which it is normally found.

Cytoplasmic transfer is where the cytoplasm from a donor egg is injected into an egg with compromised mitochondria. The resulting egg is then fertilised with sperm and implanted in a womb, usually that of the woman who provided the recipient egg and nuclear DNA. Cytoplasmic transfer was created to aid women who experience infertility due to deficient or damaged mitochondria, contained within an egg's cytoplasm.
A risk of ovarian stimulation is the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, particularly if hCG is used for inducing final oocyte maturation. This results in swollen, painful ovaries. It occurs in 30% of patients. Mild cases can be treated with over the counter medications and cases can be resolved in the absence of pregnancy. In moderate cases, ovaries swell and fluid accumulated in the abdominal cavities and may have symptoms of heartburn, gas, nausea or loss of appetite. In severe cases patients have sudden excess abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and will result in hospitalisation.
The percentage of cycles cancelled between egg retrieval and embryo transfer is an indication of failed fertilization. This figure is halved with ICSI as compared to conventional IVF, indicating that it can indeed improve fertilization when the sperm is at fault. However, there are no differences in pregnancy, miscarriage or live birth rates between conventional IVF and ICSI, indicating overall similar success rates1.
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