While there are a number of assissted reproductive technologies (ART) available to infertile couples, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is by far the most utilized of these methods. In fact, IVF accounts for more than 95% of all ART procedures. If you're not familiar with IVF, then take a look at What is IVF?, which gives you a general overview of what is involved in this procedure.
To gain a better understanding of the procedure, though, you may want to read our more detailed descriptions of each stage of the IVF procedure, including retrieval, embryo culture, and transfering of the embryo. Our Timetable & Embryo Grading guide will help you understand just how your embryo develops before it is transfered back to you. Embryo Development will give you a detailed look at how a fertilized egg divides before being transferred.
It is important to note that there are two types of transfers that can occur in an IVF procedure: the standard 3-day transfer or a blastocyst transfer. Both types of transfer have advantages and disadvantages, as outlined in 3 Day Transfer vs. Blastocyst Transfers.
While your embryos are still in the lab, there are a number of techniques that IVF specialists can perform to improve the health your embryos. One such technique is assisted hatching, which may improve your embryos ability to implant in your uterus. Some couples also ask that their embryos receive a preimplantation genetic diagnosis before being transfered. This diagnositic test allows specialists to transfer only those embryos which are healthiest.
Since many eggs are retrieved and fertilized during IVF, you may be wondering what happen to those embryos that are not transfered back to you. A common procedure for numerous couples is to have the extra embryos cryo-preserved so that they can be used in future IVF cycles if necessary. This is known as frozen embryo transfer.
For couples who aren't sure that IVF is the right form of ART for them, there are alternatives. Some other types of ART include GIFT, ZIFT, and TET.