In today’s blog, here’s everything you need to know about IVF, In Vitro Fertilization!


What is IVF?

IVF is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) in which the fertilization is done by extracting eggs and sperm and manually combining them in a laboratory dish. The embryos are then transferred to the uterus. There are other versions of such technology, including gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT):

  • Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): this process is very similar to that of IVF except the egg and sperm are immediately placed in the fallopian tubes for fertilization instead of in a laboratory dish. 


The Process: 

Here are the four steps to expect when undergoing IVF:

  1. To start stimulating egg production, fertility medications may be prescribed. This is usually due to the preference of having multiple eggs to try to fertilize after retrieving. Not all eggs will fertilize, so it’s helpful to have more than one to utilize. Additionally, a woman will receive other tests like a transvaginal ultrasound and blood tests to examine her ovaries and check her hormone levels. For such transfers like GIFT and ZIFT, a woman’s fallopian tube may be x-rayed to determine if they are healthy enough to receive the full procedure.
  2. For women: after tests and stimulating egg production, the eggs are taken using a minor procedure for extraction. Medicine is provided to help alleviate the discomfort of the procedure. For men: they are asked to provide a sperm sample, which will be needed for insemination.
  3. Insemination is the process in which the sperm and eggs are mixed together and stored in a dish to encourage fertilization. The dish is monitored until it’s confirmed there is fertilization, in which place the eggs and sperm mixture is considered an embryo.
  4. Finally, the embryo(s) are transferred to the uterus in a matter of 3 to 5 days after insemination and fertilization. This procedure for women is usually painless and after around 6 to 10 days the procedure is considered successful if the implantation sticks.


Why Use IVF and What Are Some Side Effects? 

There are plenty of reasons people use IVF, including:

  • Infertility, including male factor infertility
  • Women who’ve had their fallopian tubes taken out
  • Women who experience ovulation issues or disorders

Side Effects of IVF

There are some mild side effects after the procedure, which include:

  • Mild cramping and/or bloating
  • A small amount of fluid found after the procedure
  • Constipation
  • Breast tenderness

Please note that experiencing heavy vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, urinating blood, and/or development of a fever over 100.5 degrees after IVF needs to be followed up with your doctor immediately


How Successful is IVF?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, in the U.S. live birth rates from IVF are as follows: 

  • 41 to 43% for women under age 35
  • 33 to 36% for women ages 35 to 37
  • 23 to 27% for women ages 38 to 40
  • 13 to 18% for women ages over 40

The success rate of IVF at different clinics depends on lifestyle factors, reproductive history, cause of infertility, and maternal age.


If you’re considering IVF treatment, know that you’re not alone! For more specific questions about treatment options, such as in vitro fertilization, visit our infertility page. Additionally, you can hear Dr. Kate O’Leary from the Institute of Reproductive Health discuss infertility, endometriosis, ovulation, and more from our Wino Gyno series here.  

Before picking any particular course of dealing with infertility, we recommend talking about your options with a licensed physician. Our doctors at Mt. Auburn OBGYN are experienced in diagnosing and planning treatment for infertility, and they are just a call away