IVF & Fertility medicine
In Vitro Fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) commonly referred to as IVF. IVF is the process of fertilization by extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample, and thenmanually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish. The embryo(s) is then transferred to the uterus. Other forms of ART include gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is the most common and effective type of assisted reproductive technology to help women become pregnant.
It involves fertilizing an egg outside the body, in a laboratory dish, and then implanting it in a woman's uterus.
By 2016, some 6.5 million babies had been born using in-vitro fertilization (IVF). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 1.6 percent of babies born in the United States each year are conceived through assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Fast facts about in-vitro fertilization (IVF)
- In-vitro fertilization (IVF) can help achieve pregnancy when other treatments have not worked.
- The process involves fertilizing an egg outside the body, and implanting it to continue the pregnancy.
- One percent of babies born in the United States are conceived through IVF.
- There is a higher chance of a multiple birth with IVF.
Procedure Of IVF & fertility medicine
In-vitro-Fertilization (IVF) is a common infertility treatment. During the procedure, a fertility doctor takes the eggs from the ovaries using a small needle and fertilizes them with sperm in a specialized lab. After fertilization happens, the eggs develop into embryos. Three to five days later, the specialist re-implants the embryos back into the uterus.
Watch this video to learn what happens at every step of the IVF treatment cycle. By looking inside one of the most advanced, state-of-the art IVF laboratories, learn how a fertility clinic within the ARC network, RMA of New York, performs IVF and other advanced reproductive technologies (ART) using the highest-standards of medical excellence.
You can also develop a better understanding of common laboratory techniques used during an IVF cycle:
- Egg Retrieval: A minor surgical procedure in which a doctor obtains eggs from the follicles of the ovaries.
- Donor l Insemination: A gynecologist places sperm directly inside the vagina at the cervix or inside the uterus (called Intrauterine Insemination or IUI). Donor insemination was previously called Artificial Insemination.
- Embryo Development: When the sperm successfully fertilizes the egg, an embryo forms and begins to grow. When the embryo is 2 to 3 days old it at the ‘cleavage stage’; at 5 to 6 days old, it is called a ‘blastocyst’.
- Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): A single sperm is injected into an egg to trigger fertilization. This is done with special equipment in the embryology laboratory.
- Assisted Hatching: A laser or chemical solution is used on the embryo to increase the chances it will implant in the lining of the uterus (endometrium).
- Embryo Transfer: Fertilized eggs (embryos) are placed back into the woman’s uterus or fallopian tube through the cervix.
- Embryo Cryopreservation: An embryo is frozen at very cold temperatures. The preserved embryos can be used for future use.
Signs Of IVF Treatment
Smoking and Alcohol Habits
Just about everyone knows drinking and smoking while pregnant is a big no-no. But smoking and drinking while trying to get pregnant is also a problem.
Smoking negatively affects sperm counts, sperm shape, and sperm movement, all important factors for conception. IVF treatment success has also been found to be poorer in male smokers, even when IVF with ICSI is used. (ICSI involves taking a single sperm and directly injecting it into an egg.)
Smoking is also connected to erectile dysfunction, so dropping the habit may reverse some of the adverse effects.
In women, smoking can speed up the process of ovarian aging, bringing on earlier menopause. The good news is that if you quit early enough, you may be able to reverse some of the damage. Heavy drinking can also lead to fertility problems, both for men and women.
Most studies have found that a few drinks a week won't cause any harm, but excessive drinking has been linked to lower sperm counts, poor sperm movements, and irregular sperm shape. One study found that with every additional drink consumed per week, the IVF success rate decreased.
Toxic Chemicals at Work
Does your job involve close contact with toxic chemicals? If so, you may be at greater risk for infertility and decreased sperm health.
Farmers, painters, varnishers, metal workers, and welders have all been found to be at risk for reduced fertility. If your job involves toxic chemical contact or high heat conditions, speak to your doctor. There may be more steps you can take to protect yourself.
High temperatures are bad news for sperm. You've most likely heard of this in relation to the boxers versus briefs argument. The thinking was that boxers, being less restrictive and having more airflow, would lead to cooler testicular temperatures and healthier levels of fertility. The research isn't clear on whether boxers or briefs matter, although wearing extremely tight shorts or underwear, especially when made from a non-breathable fabric, may have an impact on sperm health.
More sources of sperm-troubling heat include:
- Hot tubbing or long hot baths
- Sitting for prolonged periods of time with your legs together (like at a desk job or while driving long distances)
- Sitting with a laptop on your lap
- Heated car seats
The heat damaging effects may have a longer lasting impact than you'd imagine, too. A very small study looked at men who attended a sauna twice a week, for 15 minutes, over a period of three months. When comparing to semen samples taken before the sauna visits, the researchers found decreases in sperm count and movement, as well as more DNA-damaged sperm.
The men in the study were again evaluated three months and six months after they stopped attending the sauna. Sperm health wasn't completely regained until six months after the men stopped attending the sauna sessions.
A Word From Verywell
About 80 percent of couples will conceive within six months, and about 90 percent will be pregnant after a year, if they are having well-timed sexual intercourse. If you don’t get pregnant after one year of trying, you should see your doctor. If you’re 35 years old or older, then you should see your doctor after six months of trying.
However, what if you have a possible sign of infertility before the one-year mark? What if you’re at risk for infertility?
In that case, talk to your doctor now. Your doctor can run some basic fertility tests. If everything comes back normal, you can continue trying on your own for a while longer. However, if there is a problem, you will have caught it much sooner, and your odds of successful fertility treatment will be higher.