In Vitro Fertilization: How It Works
How Embryo Implantation works
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex series of procedures used to help with fertility or prevent genetic problems and assist with the conception of a child.
During IVF, mature eggs are collected (retrieved) from ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs (embryos) are transferred to a uterus. One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. Sometimes these steps are split into different parts and the process can take longer.
IVF is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology. The procedure can be done using a couple’s eggs and sperm. Or IVF may involve eggs, sperm, or embryos from a known or anonymous donor. In some cases, a gestational carrier — someone who has an embryo implanted in the uterus — might be used.
Your chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, IVF can be time-consuming, expensive, and invasive. If more than one embryo is transferred to the uterus, IVF can result in a pregnancy with more than one fetus (multiple pregnancies).
Your doctor can help you understand how IVF works, the potential risks, and whether this method of treating infertility is right for you.
Embryo transfer is done at your doctor’s office or a clinic and usually takes place two to five days after egg retrieval.
- You might be given a mild sedative. The procedure is usually painless, although you might experience mild cramping.
- The doctor will insert a long, thin, flexible tube called a catheter into your vagina, through your cervix and into your uterus.
- A syringe containing one or more embryos suspended in a small amount of fluid is attached to the end of the catheter.
- Using the syringe, the doctor places the embryo or embryos into your uterus.
If successful, an embryo will implant in the lining of your uterus about six to 10 days after egg retrieval.