What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where eggs and sperm are combined outside of the uterus to create fertilized embryos. Following IVF treatment, an embryo can be transferred to the womb to develop. This IVF treatment process has been used for 30+ years. It’s the most common method of medically assisted pregnancy, with the highest success rates.
Build your family with in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- High Success Rates: IVF has proven to be one of the most effective fertility treatments, with success rates significantly higher than other methods. It's especially beneficial for couples facing issues like blocked fallopian tubes, severe male infertility, and unexplained infertility.
- Advanced Technology: Utilizing the latest advances in medical technology, IVF allows for careful monitoring and manipulation of the reproductive process, enhancing the chances of conception and a healthy pregnancy.
- ICSI for Male Infertility: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is a specialized form of IVF that's particularly effective in overcoming male infertility issues. In ICSI, a single healthy sperm is directly injected into an egg, significantly improving fertilization chances for couples where male factor infertility is a concern, such as low sperm count or poor sperm mobility.
- Genetic Screening Options: IVF offers the possibility of preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), which screens embryos for genetic abnormalities. This is particularly advantageous for couples with a history of genetic disorders or recurrent miscarriages.
- Flexibility and Control: IVF provides more control over timing and family planning. It’s a preferred choice for those who wish to delay parenthood, including options like egg or embryo freezing.
- Inclusive for Diverse Family Structures: IVF is a versatile option, accommodating a wide range of family structures. It's a suitable choice for same-sex couples, single parents, and those using donor sperm or eggs, making it an inclusive fertility solution.
Who Is IVF Right For?
IVF may be right for heterosexual and LGBTQIA+ couples and singles who:
- Have tried to conceive for 6+ months.
- Need medically assisted pregnancy to have a child.
- Haven’t had success with other fertility treatments (like medication and insemination).
- Have PCOS, endometriosis, low sperm count, or other diagnoses that can affect fertility.
The Full IVF Journey
Fertility Testing and Diagnosis
Depending on your reason for choosing IVF, you’ll go through diagnostic testing to look into the cause of your infertility. IVF is not always necessary or feasible, so your doctor might recommend alternative treatments to start.
Care Coordination and Financial Consultation
A Pinnacle staff member will go over the financial side of the IVF process with you. Your clinical team will review your calendar, order your medication, and prepare you for your treatment.
Pre-IVF Hormonal Preparation
To prepare your body for IVF, you’ll need to take birth control pills. It might seem counterintuitive, but birth control helps:
- Prepare your ovaries to respond better to hyperstimulation medicine
- Coordinate your cycle so you can plan your treatment around your schedule
In addition to starting birth control, we may perform additional tests and recommend lifestyle adjustments as needed.
Stimulating Egg Production
During this step, you’ll begin hormonal treatments by either taking a pill or an injectable medication. This medication encourages your ovaries to produce more mature eggs than they would naturally. The end goal is to get at least three mature and fully-developed eggs. We’ll track your egg development with blood tests and ultrasounds. It takes time for your body to adjust to the hormones and nurture your new eggs, so this stage can take several weeks.
Ovulation & Egg Retrieval
Once you’ve produced enough mature eggs, you’ll receive a hormone injection that induces ovulation (releasing the mature eggs). After about 36 hours, you’ll return to our office for the outpatient egg retrieval procedure. An anesthesiologist will place you under IV sedation and our specialists will remove the eggs. This only takes about 15 minutes, and you’ll rest comfortably afterwards in one of our recovery rooms. After about 30 minutes, you’ll be able to go home.
IVF Process & Monitoring
We perform the fertilization in our state-of-the-art lab with the retrieved eggs and selected sperm cells provided by your partner or a sperm donor.
Once the eggs have been retrieved a single sperm is injected into each egg in a process called ICSI to complete the insemination process.
Our lab specialists closely monitor the embryos as they develop and will give you updates on their progression. During this stage, we can also screen for certain genetic disorders, ensuring only the healthiest embryos with the greatest chance of a successful IVF pregnancy are transferred. If you’d like, we can also reveal the sex of embryos.
The doctor will meet with you to determine the best transfer plan. Our goal is to maximize the chance of a successful IVF pregnancy while minimizing the chance of multiple births. Your age and prior history with IVF will affect your transfer plan.
Once you and your doctor agree on a plan, we’ll perform the transfer. This outpatient procedure doesn’t require sedation––it’s quick and often compared to the sensation of a pap smear. Any high-quality embryos left over can be frozen for use in future IVF cycles.
Pregnancy Testing & Monitoring
After the transfer, you'll take medications that help support your pregnancy in the early stages. After about two weeks, you’ll take a pregnancy test. If the test is positive, we’ll administer another test soon after to make sure the pregnancy is progressing successfully. If everything goes well, you’ll be well on your journey to building your family. If your pregnancy test is negative, we’ll schedule a follow-up visit to discuss your options.
Any high-quality embryos that are left after an implantation attempt can be frozen by vitrification to be used in a future embryo transfer. Vitrification is a special way to freeze your eggs and embryos that avoids trauma to the cells. Water is removed from the eggs or embryos and replaced with an “antifreeze”. Then the egg is quickly brought to a very cold temperature. By removing the water and freezing it quickly, your eggs or embryos are safe from damaging ice crystal formation.
In vitro Fertilization FAQs
Weight, smoking, consuming alcohol, drug use, excessive caffeine, exposure to toxins, stress, and over-exercising are all among common factors that may affect fertility or IVF success for women.
Similar to the issues that may affect fertility for women, weight, smoking, excessive caffeine, consuming alcohol, drug use, and stress are all lifestyle factors that may affect fertility or IVF success for men.
From the time your IVF cycle starts to getting embryos created, typically takes about two weeks.
All IVF appointments at Pinnacle Fertility are outpatient procedures, meaning you never have to stay overnight at our clinic. You will need to take time off for your egg retrieval and you may choose to take time off from work for other appointments or procedures at your discretion, however we can schedule appointments 7 days a week with virtual visits available as appropriate.
Yes. Our team of Navigators can help you coordinate details including the transfer of frozen eggs or frozen embryos from another clinic.
The most common type of transfer Pinnacle performs is the frozen embryo transfer, however in some cases a fresh embryo transfer is also an option. We typically perform frozen transfers because it allows for genetic testing which increases the chance of an embryo successfully implanting. In either case, the embryo transfer is a quick outpatient procedure that requires no sedation and feels similar to a pap smear.
There are many factors that can influence IVF success rates. In general IVF with ICSI has a much higher success rate than regular IVF (~72% fertilization rate compared to ~60%). At Pinnacle, we include ICSI as a standard part of our IVF treatment package and not an add-on cost like many other clinics. Our goal is to increase your chances of success with the fewest number of cycles and ICSI is just one way we try to accomplish that. You can read more about success rates here.
IVF can result in a range of side effects during the various stages and procedures. You can read about some of the side effects that can be expected during IVF here and day-by-day signs and symptoms of embryo transfer here. Additionally, with IVF there is an increased risk of multiple pregnancies.
In general IVF is not a painful procedure. Your doctor will prescribe injections that you’ll be required to self-administer which could be somewhat painful. Both the egg retrieval and embryo transfer procedures are not typically considered to be painful procedures, and are often compared to the feeling of a pap smear.
Advances in infertility treatments have helped thousands of people become parents, but insurance coverage requirements vary by state and insurance plan. Check with your insurance provider to understand the fertility treatment benefits available to you.
At Pinnacle Fertility our financial coordinators can help make your treatment even more affordable. They’ll help you navigate your insurance options, how to use your FSA/HSA benefits, apply for financing, and find grants. We also partner with financing providers to offer fertility financing.
Donor egg IVF at Pinnacle Fertility is a valuable option for a wide range of individuals and couples, including those facing premature ovarian failure, diminished ovarian reserve, genetic concerns, age-related fertility issues, as well as LGBTQ+ couples seeking to build their families. In this process, eggs from a thoroughly screened donor are used in the IVF procedure. The overall IVF process is consistent with standard protocols, where the donor eggs are fertilized with sperm to create embryos, providing a supportive and inclusive route to parenthood.
IVF success rates using donor eggs are quite high, which is encouraging since 12% of IVF patients use them for the embryo transfer.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection or ICSI is a technique used in IVF where a sperm cell is injected directly into the center of an egg to increase the chances of fertilization. In traditional IVF, without the use of ICSI, eggs and sperm are combined in a dish to begin the fertilization process. In both traditional IVF and IVF using ICSI, not all eggs fertilize and not all fertilized eggs develop into healthy embryos. Our embryologists closely monitor embryo development and after completing genetic testing on those that reach maturity, an embryo can be transferred to a woman’s uterus. ICSI has a ~72% fertilization rate compared to ~60% for regular IVF.