If you have been trying to have a baby for over a year without success, it’s time to talk to a health care provider about fertility therapy options. One of the options you may want to consider is in vitro fertilization, or IVF. Here some basics of IVF that may help you decide if this is the right fertility treatment option for you.
During in vitro treatment, hormone injections are administered to stimulate the ovaries. This usually takes place over several weeks. Then, the eggs are retrieved during an outpatient procedure. Typically, the patient will be sedated during the retrieval.
The eggs are then fertilized in a laboratory environment using frozen or fresh sperm. In vitro fertilization actually only refers to this part of the process: when the eggs are being fertilized remotely. Over time, however, the phrase “in vitro fertilization” has begun to be used to describe the entire process. IVF treatment options include the option of using eggs or sperm from a donor, if, for example, your partner has a low sperm count or your eggs have deteriorated somewhat due to age.
After fertilization, a number of the pre-embryos are transferred to the uterus. Other fertilized eggs may be frozen and stored for analysis or future procedures.
No fertility treatment is without risk. According to Mayo Clinic, the common risks assumed with in vitro fertilization are:
• Multiple births, which carry a higher risk of early labor and lower birth weight.
• Premature birth.
• Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which causes painful swelling of the ovaries and may also cause rapid weight gain and shortness of breath.
• Some women may experience bleeding, infection, or damage to the bowel, bladder or blood vessels as a result of the egg removal process.
• Ectopic pregnancy, when the egg implants outside the uterus.
Older women participating in in vitro treatment are at higher risk for these conditions. Discuss any other conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, which may affect conception and pregnancy through IVF with your doctor.
In vitro fertilization is one of the most costly fertility therapy options currently available. A single cycle of in vitro can cost between $10,000 and $15,000. Though many women become pregnant after their first cycle of in vitro, older women or couples where the male has a particularly low sperm count may need multiple rounds of in vitro before conception takes place. Some couples are unable to conceive using in vitro fertilization without the use of eggs or sperm from a donor.
Your insurance may help cover some of the cost of fertility therapy, including in vitro, though policies vary by state. Check with your health insurance provider to see which fertility treatments are covered under your insurance.
In vitro fertilization has the highest pregnancy rate of any fertility treatment. About 6 in every 10 women will experience pregnancy as a result of IVF.
However, there are very few absolutes when it comes to fertility. Talk to your fertility therapy specialist about tests to determine what kind of fertility treatments are most likely to get you on your way to being a mother.