IVF is performed by reproductive medicine physicians who specialize in the procedure. IVF was originally developed in the early 1970’s to treat infertility caused by blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. Louise Brown, born in the United Kingdom in 1978, was the first baby conceived with the help of IVF. She made headlines again in 2006 when she went on to naturally conceive a healthy baby of her own. The technology of IVF and advanced reproductive technologies has improved markedly since then; and over 10 million babies have been born since Louise Brown with the help of IVF.
IVF Involves Six Steps:
Step 1: Fertility Testing and Diagnostics
Prior to beginning fertility treatment, your physician will perform a consultation with you to discuss your medical history and family-building goals, as well as complete a diagnostic workup in order to develop an individualized treatment plan. This often includes blood work and a transvaginal ultrasound to determine your ovarian reserve (the quantity of eggs in the ovaries), and to gauge how your body will respond to fertility medications. If there is a known male donor, he may undergo a semen analysis.
Step 2: Ovarian Stimulation and Monitoring
During an IVF cycle, the same hormones the body makes naturally are given as injections in higher doses in order to stimulate the ovaries into producing more eggs than usual. During this stage, our physicians perform frequent monitoring (blood work and transvaginal ultrasounds) to see how your ovaries are responding to the medication and check if any dosage adjustments are needed. When the ovarian follicles containing the eggs reach a certain size, a final injection is given to finish growing the eggs before they are removed.
Step 3: Sperm Collection
Typically, the healthiest sperm will undergo a process called “sperm washing” when the strongest specimens are sorted from the rest in order to improve your chances of fertility. If there is a known male donor, he will provide a semen sample on the morning of the egg retrieval. If frozen sperm will be used, either from a known or unknown donor, the sperm will be thawed and prepared for use in fertilization.
Step 4: Egg (Ovum) Retrieval
Egg retrieval procedures take place at one of our 4 full-service locations. There is no need to go to a separate hospital. While the patient is under light sedation, the reproductive specialist aspirates (extracts) mature eggs from the ovaries via ultrasound guidance. Egg retrieval is a minimally invasive procedure that normally takes less than 15 minutes. Patients can typically resume normal activity by the next day.
Step 5: Fertilization and Embryo Testing
Inside the RMA of New York IVF laboratory, an embryologist using a high-powered microscope will fertilize the retrieved eggs using the sperm by placing the two together in a petri dish.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)
Often intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used to assist in fertilization. During ICSI, the embryologist injects a single healthy sperm into each egg cell using a very fine needle in order to initiate fertilization. This technique may be used if you are using a known donor and sperm quantity or quality is an issue, or if there are other known issues with fertilization.
Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT)
Commonly, Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT) may be performed after fertilization in order to test the embryos for specific genetic abnormalities. During PGT, a very small sample is taken from the embryo and genetically analyzed or sequenced in order to help identify the healthiest embryo for transfer. Embryos are then frozen until the results return.
Click here for more information about embryo genetic testing.
Click here for more information about blastocyst transfer.
Step 6: Embryo Transfer / Frozen Embryo Transfer
Once healthy, mature embryos have been created, the healthiest embryo is selected to be placed into the uterus. This can be done following retrieval or by undergoing a frozen embryo transfer (FET). During FETr, the patient may take fertility medications to prepare the uterus for optimal implantation or track ovulation to time the transfer.
Using an ultrasound to guide a small catheter through the patient’s cervix, the fertility physician places the embryo into the uterus so that implantation can occur. The procedure is typically painless but can cause mild cramping.
If there are additional viable embryos that are not used during transfer, they can remain frozen for later use. After a week or so, the patient will undergo a pregnancy test to confirm pregnancy.
RMA of New York Team
Why RMA of New York: IVF
RMA of New York serves as the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Mount Sinai Medical System. Our laboratory team is dedicated to scientific discovery, graduate medical education through RMA of NY’s REI Fellowship Program, and individualized care that focuses on you.
Our team of embryologists are consistently recognized as innovators in reproductive science and medicine, and security and safety standards. RMA of New York has been at the forefront of embryo freezing technology and cutting-edge research, helping countless individuals and partners achieve the dream of building a family.
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It’s never too early to learn about your fertility and reproductive options.
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Patient-centric reproductive medicine is our specialty, and we look forward to answering any questions you may have.