In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process in which a woman’s ovum (eggs) are fertilized outside of the body before being placed into the uterus, in order to increase the chances of having a successful pregnancy. IVF is used for patients who have had difficulty conceiving a child naturally. Infertility problems can be a caused by endometriosis, low sperm count, problems with ovulation, or problems with the fallopian tubes or uterus.
The process begins with hormone injections to stimulate the production of multiple eggs, instead of the usual one per month. The eggs mature, and are then removed from the woman’s ovary in a process called egg retrieval. This is often performed under sedation with a needle, and can cause some discomfort afterwards.
Doctors will usually retrieve between 5 and 30 eggs. Sometimes an egg donor may provide the eggs for IVF. The sperm used for fertilization can be from a partner or from a sperm donor. The eggs are fertilized outside of the body, and then carefully selected embryos are placed into the uterus