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 order for pregnancy to happen, sperm has to meet the egg. This normally takes place at the end of the fallopian tube, and this is called fertilization. There are a number of obstacles that can prevent this from happening, and the process itself even in healthy young fertile women is very complex- hence the low pregnancy rate each month. Obstacles such as cycle timing, low sperm count, poor sperm motility, blocked fallopian tubes, or endometriosis must be overcome to achieve a pregnancy. Timing is often the most common obstacle to conception. What does it mean for you when common causes of infertility are ruled out and you’re told you have unexplained infertility? It should mean a time of hope.
While ICSI is a more invasive procedure, some have suggested it may help by reducing the risk of failed fertilisation. However, it's emerging that IVF is probably the preferred treatment, at least in the first cycle, in "unexplained" infertility. IVF allows for healthy competition between sperm, is less expensive, avoids trauma to the egg and may produce more embryos, with better pregnancy and live birth rates  
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.
Intrauterine insemination is the process whereby a clinician will place a concentrated specimen of sperm in your uterus. For this procedure, he or she will insert a speculum into your vagina in order to better visualize your cervix. He or she will then pass a soft, thin catheter through the cervix opening and into the uterus. The clinician will introduce the washed sperm into the uterus through this catheter. The procedure is done in our office and takes 1 to 2 minutes. It is not painful and does not require anesthesia. You can return to normal daily activities immediately after an IUI.
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.
It is possible that a significant contributor to unexplained infertility can be attributed to changes in sperm epigenetics. Methylation patterns in sperm DNA which affect the expression of various genes may be the missing link for this unique patient population. By employing epigenetic analysis, we may be able to identify more causes of infertility and suggest the optimal course of therapy. Preliminary evidence even suggests that these epigenetic signatures influence the probability of conception, embryogenesis, and successful carrying of pregnancy to term. Future research on sperm epigenetics holds the promise of revolutionizing reproductive medicine and empowering patients in the process.
Mild IVF[64] is a method where a small dose of ovarian stimulating drugs are used for a short duration during a woman's natural cycle aimed at producing 2–7 eggs and creating healthy embryos. This method appears to be an advance in the field to reduce complications and side-effects for women and it is aimed at quality, and not quantity of eggs and embryos. One study comparing a mild treatment (mild ovarian stimulation with GnRH antagonist co-treatment combined with single embryo transfer) to a standard treatment (stimulation with a GnRH agonist long-protocol and transfer of two embryos) came to the result that the proportions of cumulative pregnancies that resulted in term live birth after 1 year were 43.4% with mild treatment and 44.7% with standard treatment.[65] Mild IVF can be cheaper than conventional IVF and with a significantly reduced risk of multiple gestation and OHSS.[66]
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.
Ovarian stimulation – You’ll take stimulation medications to increases both the quantity and quality of eggs. This usually begins during days 2-4 of your cycle and continues for around ten days. You’ll be closely monitored during this time to track your uterine lining, follicular development, and hormone levels. Once the follicles are optimal size, a trigger medication is given to fully mature the eggs.

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.
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.
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]
As with any medical procedure, there are some risks to keep in mind. When choosing between IUI and IVF, the risk is certainly something to consider. The chances of experiencing either a miscarriage or multiples are concerns many have when deciding to undergo fertility treatments. So let’s take a look at the odds of either of these things occurring, plus a few other risks to be aware of.
Fertility was found to be a significant factor in a man's perception of his masculinity, driving many to keep the treatment a secret.[139] In cases where the men did share that he and his partner were undergoing IVF, they reported to have been teased, mainly by other men, although some viewed this as an affirmation of support and friendship. For others, this led to feeling socially isolated.[140] In comparison with women, men showed less deterioration in mental health in the years following a failed treatment.[141] However many men did feel guilt, disappointment and inadequacy, stating that they were simply trying to provide an 'emotional rock' for their partners.[140]
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Amenorrhea (including hypothalmic amenorrhea) is a condition in which there is an absence of menstrual periods in a woman. There are two types of amenorrhea: primary and secondary. Treatment of amenorrhea depends on the type. In primary, surgery may be an option and in secondary amenorrhea medication or lifestyle changes may be treatment options. We go over the definition of amenorrhea, causes, and treatment options for amenorrhea.
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).
Problems in the quantity or quality of eggs: Women are born with a limited supply of eggs and are unable to create new eggs after birth. As women approach their 40s and beyond, the numbers of eggs left in their ovaries decrease, and the remaining eggs have a higher chance of having chromosomal problems. For women where age isn’t a concern, there are other reasons that they might have a low number of good quality eggs, including autoimmune or genetic conditions and prior surgery or radiation.
The consequences of infertility are manifold and can include societal repercussions and personal suffering. Advances in assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF, can offer hope to many couples where treatment is available, although barriers exist in terms of medical coverage and affordability. The medicalization of infertility has unwittingly led to a disregard for the emotional responses that couples experience, which include distress, loss of control, stigmatization, and a disruption in the developmental trajectory of adulthood.[15] One of the main challenges in assessing the distress levels in women with infertility is the accuracy of self-report measures. It is possible that women “fake good” in order to appear mentally healthier than they are. It is also possible that women feel a sense of hopefulness/increased optimism prior to initiating infertility treatment, which is when most assessments of distress are collected. Some early studies concluded that infertile women did not report any significant differences in symptoms of anxiety and depression than fertile women. The further into treatment a patient goes, the more often they display symptoms of depression and anxiety. Patients with one treatment failure had significantly higher levels of anxiety, and patients with two failures experienced more depression when compared with those without a history of treatment. However, it has also been shown that the more depressed the infertile woman, the less likely she is to start infertility treatment and the more likely she is to drop out after only one cycle. Researchers have also shown that despite a good prognosis and having the finances available to pay for treatment, discontinuation is most often due to psychological reasons.[16]
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.

 It is important for couples to maintain open and honest communication with each other, and to recognize that feelings can change over time. For single parents wishing to have additional children, it's also important that they try to develop a strong support system through friends and family. And, because children can pick up on their parents' stress, it is also important to pay attention to how their kids may be feeling. Children might not understand why their parents are feeling a certain way and attribute it to something they've done.  
Fertility expert Zita West has noticed this increase at her London clinic. "The main reason," she explains, "is age. Women are having babies later." Exhaustion also plays a part. "The sleeplessness of life with a small child can't be underestimated," she says. "You might still be breastfeeding, you might be sharing a bed with a toddler, you might be holding down a job at the same time. Basically, there's not a lot of sex happening."
Use our website links to find your nearest clinic, or fill out our online contact form. You may want to discuss the pros and cons of IUI and IVF or you may just want to explore all the options that might be available. The sooner you take that first step to discuss your fertility issues with one of our physicians, the sooner you can decide on the next step in your fertility journey and take one step closer to achieving your dream of holding your own new baby in your arms.

The eggs are retrieved from the patient using a transvaginal technique called transvaginal oocyte retrieval, involving an ultrasound-guided needle piercing the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries. Through this needle follicles can be aspirated, and the follicular fluid is passed to an embryologist to identify ova. It is common to remove between ten and thirty eggs. The retrieval procedure usually takes between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the number of mature follicles, and is usually done under conscious sedation or general anaesthesia.
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.
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.
Coping with secondary fertility can be tough. Endless doctor appointments, tests, procedures, and medications. Sleepless nights. Time and energy away from your little one. Guilt over wanting another pregnancy when many women are struggling to have just that. Stress between you and your partner. Sadness when you get invited to yet another baby shower — and guilt for even feeling that way.

There’s an intense emotional response to hearing, “There is no apparent reason for your infertility”. It can be difficult, maddening and equally frustrating for both you and your partner. People who do find out a specific cause find their situations difficult, too, of course, but knowing the “whys” makes it more bearable. In cases of unexplained infertility, couples feel that one reason, one cause is lurking in a shadowy corner. It just hasn’t been uncovered yet.
Although menopause is a natural barrier to further conception, IVF has allowed women to be pregnant in their fifties and sixties. Women whose uteruses have been appropriately prepared receive embryos that originated from an egg of an egg donor. Therefore, although these women do not have a genetic link with the child, they have a physical link through pregnancy and childbirth. In many cases the genetic father of the child is the woman's partner. Even after menopause the uterus is fully capable of carrying out a pregnancy.[109]
There can be medical causes of SI, says West. "The thyroid is always something we check. Birth can put the thyroid out of kilter." Anwen, a woman in her 40s, tried for five years to have a second child. "I had my daughter when I was 30," she says, "which, at the time, seemed very early. I was the first among all our friends to have a baby." She decided to try for a second when her daughter was three. "But a year went by and nothing happened. I went to the GP and he told me not to worry. 'If you've already given birth, there won't be a problem,' he said. But my daughter turned five and I still wasn't pregnant." Eventually, Anwen persuaded her GP to refer her to a fertility consultant who, after some simple investigations, informed her she had polycystic ovarian syndrome. "He said I'd probably had it all my life and that my daughter was an amazing one-off. I had no idea that anything was wrong." She was given a prescription for the fertility drug Clomid; two months later, she conceived her son.
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).
In contrast, a study in 2016 compared outcomes of IVF and ICSI in patients with unexplained infertility and normal semen quality and showed promising results using ICSI 3. It was found that ICSI oocytes (84.5%) had a significantly higher fertilization rate compared to those inseminated by conventional IVF (67.6%). Moreover, there were no cases of complete fertilization failure (CFF) in the ICSI group, but CFF occurred in 7.9% of the IVF group.
Statistically, the biggest decline in live births happens between the ages of 40 and 42+. In other words, a woman who has just turned 40 has a much higher chance of conceiving and delivering a baby than a woman who has just turned 42. Of course, these numbers and trends concern women using their own eggs. With donor eggs, consider the age of the woman at the time the eggs were harvested and use that age.
Medical treatment of infertility generally involves the use of fertility medication, medical device, surgery, or a combination of the following. If the sperm are of good quality and the mechanics of the woman's reproductive structures are good (patent fallopian tubes, no adhesions or scarring), a course of ovulation induction maybe used. The physician or WHNP may also suggest using a conception cap cervical cap, which the patient uses at home by placing the sperm inside the cap and putting the conception device on the cervix, or intrauterine insemination (IUI), in which the doctor or WHNP introduces sperm into the uterus during ovulation, via a catheter. In these methods, fertilization occurs inside the body.
IUI Preparation – Before your IUI procedure, men and women can make changes to their diet, add beneficial supplements or medications, and utilize holistic therapies like acupuncture and massage to ensure the best possible outcome from IUI. Taking this time to focus on improving the quality of your eggs pays off exponentially because it’s something you have the power to change. Best results are seen if adopted for 90 days prior to treatment.

First, consider where the information about the success rates is coming from. Generally speaking, IVF success rates in the United States comes from the clinics themselves or from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine both contribute to the CDC data.


There is a risk of multiples, which includes twins, triplets, or more. Multiple pregnancies can be risky for both the babies and the mother. It's important to discuss with your doctor how many embryos to transfer, as transferring more than necessary will increase your risk of conceiving twins or more. When embryos have been tested with PGT, typically only a single embryo is transferred.
Patients with hypothalamic dysfunction are not producing signals within their brains to tell the ovary to mature an egg. They are diagnosed because they have an extremely low FSH and a low LH (almost zero). Neither clomid nor letrozole will help them. For these patients, IUI must be accompanied by gonadotropin to be effective. From here on in this section, none of the data we’ll reference refers to patients with hypothalamic dysfunction.
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]
By 2017, many centers have adopted embryo cryopreservation as their primary IVF therapy, and perform few or no fresh embryo transfers. The two main reasons for this have been better endometrial receptivity when embryos are transferred in cycles without exposure to ovarian stimulation and also the ability to store the embryos while awaiting the results of pre-implantation genetic testing.
If a couple has been actively trying for over a year, it may be time to consider seeing a specialist. One thing we hear time and time again from our Glow Fertility Program partner physicians is that they wish their patients would come in sooner. Seeing a specialist as soon as you suspect you may have a problem trying to conceive can save you both time and money.
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.
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.
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.
In the natural process of conception without treatment, a woman’s ovaries produce a mature egg each month, which leaves the ovary and travels along the fallopian tube towards the uterus. Sperm that has been deposited in the vagina through intercourse travels through the cervix through the uterus and up the fallopian tube toward the egg. Millions of sperm are lost in the cervix and do not travel to the fallopian tube. When the two meet, they join to form the early stage of an embryo which then travels down the fallopian tube into the uterus. If all goes well, it will implant in the lining of the womb and pregnancy begins.
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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