If you are considering in vitro fertilization (IVF) to expand your family, learn how long your IVF specialist may be involved in the process. This can give you an idea of what to expect from this type of treatment. Here are different milestones to expect during your IVF journey:
First Visit and Consultations: Week 1
Your journey with your IVF specialist begins the first day you step into their office. This visit can provide the foundation for future sessions with your doctor.
During your first visit, your physician may try to get an extensive overview of your and your partner’s medical history. They may ask questions about previous fertility tests you have taken and the results from each test.
The goal of the first consultation is to build rapport with your doctor and ask any questions you may have. If you decide to get treated at the clinic, you can be connected with a financial consultant. They can guide you through the different pricing packages at the clinic. The treatment begins after you decide on a suitable payment package.
Pre-treatment Testing: Week 2 – 3
Your IVF specialist should perform comprehensive tests on you and your partner. This is to determine your reproductive health and confirm your infertility diagnosis before starting treatment. Pre-treatment testing can also help your IVF specialist to create an individualized treatment plan.
Some pre-IVF tests to expect include the following:
- A blood panel
- Pap smear
- Uterine evaluation
- Sperm analysis
- Infectious disease screening
- Genetic carrier screening
Medication and Monitoring: Week 4 – 6
The first medication fertility specialists can prescribe at the onset of IVF is birth control pills for women. These pills regulate the menstrual cycle and control ovulation. After you come off your birth control pills, you may begin the ovarian stimulation process.
Your doctor can administer fertility medications orally or via injection to boost the release of hormones that trigger egg production and maturation. The goal is to produce enough eggs for fertilization.
As you take fertility medication, your fertility specialist can monitor the development of your follicles to determine how many mature eggs you have. Once your follicles grow to the ideal size for harvesting, you are ready for egg retrieval. Your doctor can inject you with medication that triggers the release of eggs from the mature follicles before egg retrieval.
Egg Retrieval and Fertilization: Week 7
Egg retrieval is a minimally invasive procedure with little risk, performed under sedation. You can go home immediately after egg retrieval. Take a day off work and have someone pick you up at the clinic. This is because you may be groggy after the procedure. If you go with your male partner, your fertility specialist may collect their sperm that day.
Your IVF specialist may then combine the eggs and sperm in a lab to fertilize them. If your male partner has sperm quality issues, your doctor may inject a single healthy sperm into the egg to fertilize it. This fertilization method is known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). If fertilization is successful, embryos are created.
Embryo Evaluation and Transfer: Week 8
Your IVF specialist evaluates the embryos for transfer a few days after fertilization to determine which ones have the best chances of implantation. Pre-implantation genetic screening should be done if the pre-treatment genetic carrier screening results revealed genetic issues from either partner. This pre-implantation test can help the IVF specialist to transfer healthy embryos only. This may help reduce the chances of miscarriage.
After your embryos have reached the blastocyst stage, your IVF specialist can use a thin plastic tube that passes through the vaginal and cervical openings to transfer a viable embryo into your uterus. This process could be painless, though some women may experience mild cramping. Fertility specialists can use ultrasound technology during embryo transfer for better visibility.
What To Expect After IVF
After the embryo transfer, your fertility specialist may prescribe a progesterone supplement to strengthen the uterine lining and encourage implantation. Progesterone can also prevent muscle contractions in the uterus that would cause your body to reject the embryo.
You may take a pregnancy test in the IVF clinic roughly 12 days after embryo transfer. If the test is positive, your IVF specialist may schedule a second test after a few days to verify the first test results.
When the second test is positive, your fertility specialist may schedule you for an ultrasound. If everything seems good, they transfer your care to an OB/GYN.
See an IVF Specialist Today
Your IVF specialist can be involved in the larger part of your fertility journey, so choose someone you can trust. Once you begin IVF, expect to interact with your IVF specialist for about ten weeks. Your specialist will give you the care and attention you need to get started on your fertility journey.