The Complete Guide to the IVF Process

IVF or in-vitro fertilization is a medical process where sperm is fertilized in a lab instead of inside the body. During IVF, the sperm and egg are mixed and incubated in a lab with the resulting embryos inserted into the woman’s uterus. IVF is a common solution for those struggling or unable to conceive and offers many another chance to start the family of their dreams. It’s also a favorable option for LBTQ+ couples looking for fertility treatment. If you’ve been considering IVF treatment, this is what you need to know to make your decision. 

Who is IVF right for? 

Many people benefit from IVF. You may be a good candidate for IVF if you or your partner fall under the following categories: 

  • You have not had success with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), also commonly known as artificial insemination 
  • You suffer from severe endometriosis, which can adversely impact your eggs and prevent pregnancy as a result of scar tissue inside your fallopian tubes
  • You are over a certain age recommended by a specialist
  • You have a Diminished Ovarian Reserve (DOR)
  • Your fallopian tubes are damaged or even completely absent
  • You have a known genetic disorder and want to eliminate the risk of your baby having the same disorder
  • You do not have a uterus and need to create embryos for transfer to a gestational carrier
  • The male partner has male factor infertility, making conceiving challenging without the use of IVF

How long does IVF take? 

The IVF process typically takes about four weeks once medication starts, slightly longer than the length of a normal ovulation cycle. This time includes ovarian stimulation, retrieval, and transfer, though the process can take longer in some cases. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to IVF. Some people may need to undergo several cycles because the chances of falling pregnant on IVF are different for everybody. 

What happens during IVF? 

Graphic with 5 steps of IVF listed out.

The IVF process includes several steps for a full cycle — ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer. Briefly summed up: 

  • Stimulation: In the beginning, you take medication that enables your ovaries to produce multiple eggs rather than the typical single egg per month. This is important because it gives you a greater chance of producing a fertilized egg in one cycle. This stage typically takes around 2 weeks. To determine if your eggs are ready for retrieval you will undergo ultrasounds and blood testing. 
  • Egg Retrieval: Egg retrieval is a simple procedure that takes only 7-9 minutes. It is carried out under light sedation, so there is no discomfort. Each ovarian follicle is punctured, and the fluid containing the eggs gets drawn out using a fine needle. Several hours after the retrieval, an embryologist will count how many retrieved eggs have matured. Then the eggs are ready for fertilization.
  • Fertilization: During fertilization, the sperm and egg get mixed together. This process may include the additional step of ICSI, where a single sperm gets directly injected into each egg. 

Embryo transfer

In this procedure, Dr. Gelety will insert a long, thin, flexible tube into your vagina to transfer the embryo. If successful, a fresh embryo will implant in the lining of your uterus about three days after egg retrieval. However, it can be as long as a five day transfer if the testing was performed on embryos.

Are there any risks to IVF?

As with any medical procedure, IVF does have its risks. These include soreness and the chance of multiple births. During the stimulation phase, there is the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can cause weight gain, nausea, abdominal distention/bloating, and potentially shortness of breath. 

What does IVF cost in Arizona?

On average, you can expect IVF to cost around $12,000. Keep in mind that prices will vary from clinic to clinic and depending on your insurance coverage. At Arizona Center For Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility in Tucson, AZ, you can speak with a financial consultant to discuss treatment costs. We will work with you to come up with an affordable plan

We believe in helping all aspiring parents make their dreams of parenthood a possibility. We welcome people from all backgrounds and sexual orientations because everyone deserves to experience the unique joys of raising their own child. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to call us at (520) 326-0001. We can help you understand your options to increase your chances of conceiving.