IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) Treatments

Overcoming infertility

By Brandie Umar, Executive Director of ContentLast modified: January 17, 2012

In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Defined

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is the process of manually combining a female’s embryo with a male’s sperm in a laboratory dish for the purposes of fertilization. IVF is a common infertility treatment that enables couples to overcome infertility and conceive children. As the most common form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) IVF has been continually improved and expanded to combat both male and female infertility factors.

In-Vitro literally means ‘within glass” and generally refers to biological procedures performed outside the body or ‘in the laboratory.’ The IVF procedure involves extracting eggs from the female’s ovaries and allowing fertilized eggs to develop into embryos in a laboratory dish rather than inside the body. 

Successful IVF requires healthy female ova, healthy sperm and a uterus that can carry a pregnancy. IVF patients undergo infertility testing to examine the health and functionality of specific reproductive organs. In females, infertility is generally based on the ovarian reserve. Doctors assess the female’s ovaries and hormones during female infertility testing in determining the necessary method of treatment. Diminished ovarian reserves often make patients good candidates for IVF with egg donation whereas a healthy ovary may qualify the patient for regular IVF treatment or IVF with sperm donation. If the cause of infertility is due to a male infertility factor, the couple may be good candidates for Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI).

Depending on the source of the problem, IVF can be combined with other treatments such as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).

It is difficult to predict whether IVF will succeed on a given patient. Age is a significant factor in predicting success, but as technology continually improves, doctors can make more accurate predictions using embryo data. Factors for prognosis include the number of cells that develop into embryos, the thickness of the lining in the womb (the endometrium), and the patient’s body mass index. IVF success rates decrease with each IVF attempt. Patients who are unsuccessful after three attempts of IVF should undergo counseling for other options.

Success rates from IVF have increased significantly over the years as technological advances and hormonal discoveries continually improve the treatment method. The first ‘test tube baby’ (a child born from IVF) was Louise Brown, born in England in 1978. Since then, doctors and scientists have made leaping discoveries to advance infertility treatments. The risks and side effects of IVF, such as multiple pregnancies, have diminished over the years adding to the vast improvements of the treatment.

Gender Selection

IVF with gender selection, also called 'family planning,' is quickly becoming a popular procedure. Even couples who do not have fertility problems are learning about the option to choose the gender of their unborn child and seek out IVF with gender selection. That said, IVF with gender selection is a controversial treatment and is only legal in certain parts of the world. 

PGD (Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis)

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis allows parents to screen embryos to check for chromosomal abnormalities or inherited disease before IVF implantation. PGD is also used for gender selection, although this is a controversial procedure that is not legal in many parts of the world, including the UK. 

MicroSort (Gender Selection)

MicroSort (Gender Selection) is an infertility treatment used to increase the chances of conceiving a female or male baby by sorting the sperm into X-bearing and Y-bearing categories.  Although MicroSort is not considered 100% effective by the medical community, it is thought to be a reasonably effective method of increasing the chances of producing a child of a specific gender instead of the normal 50% female, 50% male statistical sperm count using flow cytometry.

Egg Donation

IVF with egg donation corrects for a female infertility factor by allowing women to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term using eggs provided by a donor.

Egg And Embryo Freezing (Cryopreservation)

For medical or personal reasons many women choose to delay childbirth. Cryopreservation allows women to freeze healthy eggs (occyte) for use in the future and women undergoing infertility treatments to freeze fertilized embryos for use in later treatments .

Intracervical Insemination (ICI)

Often, when a couple is experiencing difficulty conceiving a baby, a surrogate is being used, or a woman decides that she wants to conceive without a male partner an infertility specialist will suggest one of four types of artificial insemination. Intracervical Insemination (ICI), Intrauterine Insemination, Intravaginal Insemination, and Intratubal Insemination are all used in conjunction with a woman’s natural or medically induced ovulation cycle. Intracervical Insemination (ICI) is the least invasive and most cost effective type of artificial insemination.

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection)

If male infertility is causing difficulties conceiving, fertility doctors may recommend combining IVF treatment with Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection involves a single sperm being injected into the center of the egg to increase the chance of fertilization. Injecting the sperm into the cytoplasm of healthy ova offers a solution to men with severe fertility problems. The sperm does not need to break through the outer shell and membrane of the egg.

IMSI (Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection)

IVF with IMSI is an infertility treatment that involves directly injecting sperm into the cytoplasm of a female egg. The procedure takes place in a similar fashion to a regular IVF procedure. IVF with IMSI builds off of IVF with ICSI and expands the treatment to make it more successful. 

Embryo Adoption

IVF with embryo adoption is an infertility treatment whereby couples use embryos produced by other patients; the couple 'adopts' the embryo, so to say. IVF with embryo adoption allows parents to overcome severe infertility factors. 

Sperm Donation

IVF with sperm donations combats a male infertility factor as well as enables single or gay women produce a child. Sperm donations help fertile women become pregnant. All infertility treatment can be performed using donor sperm. 

Sperm Retrieval

To diagnose the causes of infertility and to begin infertility treatments, a sample of sperm must be provided to allow doctors to make a semen analysis. If natural ejaculation of sperm is not possible, infertility specialists use three varying methods to retrieve sperm: PESA, TESA, and MESA.

Sperm Freezing (cryopreservation)

Sperm freezing, also called sperm cryopreservation, is a newly advanced technique that enables men to preserve their sperm for later use. Sperm freezing is a great solution for cancer patients who may not be able to reproduce. 

Tandem IVF Cycle

A tandem IVF cycle is an infertility treatment than combats a female infertility factor. In a tandem IVF cycle, the mother's natural eggs as well as healthy donated eggs are used to combine with sperm for fertilization. The use of the donor eggs increases the likelihood of generating a healthy embryo, while still allowing for the possible use of the mother's natural eggs.  

Mini IVF

Mini IVF is an infertility treatment similar to traditional in-vitro fertilization, however, the procedure uses many fewer fertility drugs. As a result, the overall procedure takes longer than IVF with the drugs because the embryo transfer has to be delayed until the woman's next ovulation. 

INVO Treatments

INVO fertility treatment offers an alternative to couples who have difficulties financing expensive IVF treatments and women who want to avoid the use of fertility drugs.

INVOcell (Vaginal Incubation)

Over 150 million couples worldwide are affected by fertility problems. It is estimated that 99% of couples who have trouble conceiving seek the fertility options available due to the high costs of IVF and the invasive nature of treatment.

INVO fertility treatment offers an alternative to couples who have difficulties financing expensive IVF treatments and women who want to avoid the use of fertility drugs.

In-Vitro Maturation (IVM)

In conventional IVF treatment, eggs are collected from the ovaries when they are fully matured. Using the technique of in vitro maturation, fertility clinics harvest eggs before they have matured and allow the eggs to mature 'in vitro' or outside of the body. This technique prevents problems associated with fertility drug use, such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, reduces the cost of IVF treatment cycles as fertility medication is not needed and offers a higher success rate than natural cycle IVF.

IUI (Artificial Insemination)

IUI (Artificial Insemination)is an infertility treatment that is less invasive than IVF. Doctors use IUI to inject sperm directly into the female egg to facilitate fertilization.

Fertility Drugs

Fertility drugs are often given to women in conjunction with other forms of infertility treatment. Fertility drugs are intended to balance or stimulate natural hormones in women. Inducing ovulation before an IVF cycle is one of the main reasons for fertility medication.

Fertility medication can be administered in many forms. Some drugs are tablet form, others must be dissolved in water and some are administered as daily injections. Infertility medication is used to control female progesterone levels and the levels of the Luteinizing hormone (LH) and Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).

Assisted Hatching (AH)

Assisted Hatching is an assisted reproductive medicine procedure performed during the embryo implantation stage of IVF. Assisted Hatching involves infertility specialists creating a minor defect in the membranes of fertilized eggs before proceeding with the embryo transfer stage of IVF treatment. The defect in the egg helps the shell dissolve and gives a higher success rate of embryo implantation because it is easier for the egg to attach to the uterine lining. 

Fertility Acupuncture

Fertility acupuncture is an alternative therapy that helps cure infertility in couples by pricking painless, sterile needles in different nerve points all over the body. This procedure can be used in isolation or in combination with IVF or IUI procedures.

FISH (Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization)

FISH or Fluorescence in situ hybridization is a molecular cytogenetic process that allows researchers to locate any kind of chromosomal rearrangements in cellular biology as result of some disease or a part of a treatment procedure.

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