In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is a procedure first successfully utilized in 1978 in which a woman’s ovaries are stimulated with fertility drugs to produce multiple mature eggs, which are then removed from her body and are fertilized in the laboratory with her partner’s (or donor) sperm. The resulting embryos are cultured for three to five days, at which point the best 1 or 2 embryos are then transferred back into her uterus.

IVF Procedures

An IVF procedure at CRE involves the following steps:

  1. Preparing for Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation (COH)
  2. Undergoing Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation
  3. Egg Retrieval
  4. Sperm Processing
  5. Fertilization of Eggs in the Laboratory
  6. Selecting the Best Embryos for Transfer
  7. Embryo Transfer
  8. Cryopreservation (Freezing) of Remaining Embryos (This is dependent on having additional viable embryos left after embryo transfer. Embryos can be frozen for use at a later time and at a much lower cost compared to a full IVF cycle.)

IVF Cycle Calendar

What are the steps and timing of an IVF cycle?

When you schedule your IVF procedure, you will be given a calendar by your clinical coordinator that will highlight all of the key components of your cycle, including medications, appointments, ultrasounds, tentative egg retrieval, embryo transfer and pregnancy test dates.

IVF Beta hCG Levels

Is my beta hCG strong? What do the numbers indicate?

The most important indicator in beta hCG tests is whether the number doubles every 48 hours. In some cases where a beta number doubles initially, then decreases its rate, it may indicate that a twin pregnancy has reduced to a singleton. When this is the case, it may slow initially, but should then begin to double again every 48 hours. Some betas may start off as low as 3 or 4, then progress to a healthy pregnancy, so there is really not a specific threshold number that indicates a viable pregnancy. Every case is different. Read more about interpreting beta hCG numbers HERE.

IVF and Acupuncture

There are varying opinions on the effectiveness of acupuncture at aiding successful IVF. Certain studies indicate that there are benefits, and many patients find that it gives them additional confidence and peace of mind. In the end, it is a personal decision.


  • 1

    Is IVF procedure painful?

    IVF requires hormonal injections to stimulate the ovaries to grow more eggs. This sometimes causes abdominal pressure and discomfort. The extraction of eggs is done under IV sedation which avoids procedural pain. It is normal to feel bloated after an egg retrieval but most people resume normal activities the day after the procedure. The embryo transfer is not painful and feels like having a pap smear.

  • 2

    Is IVF legal in the US?

    IVF is completely legal in the US. Many States, like Texas, also protect the reproductive rights of women who conceived with a sperm donor, egg donor or via gestational surrogacy.

  • 3

    What is IVF and how is it done?

    In-vitro fertilization is a procedure that allows fertilizing eggs in the IVF Lab to bypass the infertility factors affecting conception. It is usually done after a course of conservative treatments have failed. IVF requires injection of hormonal medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs that month. These eggs are then retrieved through a vaginal US guided needle aspiration under IV sedation. The eggs are fertilized into embryos that are grown for 5 days. We typically transfer a single day 5 embryo and freeze the extra embryos for the future.

  • 4

    Is IVF your own baby?

    Most would agree that a baby born after IVF is “your own baby,” but we know that the definition of “own baby” is relative. Typically, people use their own eggs and sperm to create an embryo. In this case, the DNA originates from both parents. However, if a woman does not have a male partner, she can use a sperm donor through a sperm bank. If a woman is no longer producing eggs, she can use an egg donor. If a woman does not have a uterus or is unable to carry the pregnancy, she can use a gestational surrogate to carry the baby for her. In all cases, whether the child’s DNA is hers or not, carrying a baby for 9 months and delivering qualifies her as the child’s mother. Whether she delivers the baby herself using her own eggs or someone else’s eggs or sperm, the couple would be considered the parent of that child.

  • 5

    How long does IVF take to get pregnant?

    It takes about a month to prepare for IVF and a month to complete the process. A nurse will be assigned to your care to coordinate your cycle.

  • 6

    What is the IVF process step by step?

    Ovaries are first stimulated with hormonal injections. The patient is monitored closely with serial ultrasounds and estrogen levels for about 10 days. Ovulation is triggered with a trigger shot and the eggs retrieved vaginally under IV sedation. Embryos are grown 5 days and transferred fresh to the uterine cavity. In some cases, the embryos are tested genetically (PGS) prior to transfer to pinpoint the healthy one for transfer. This requires freezing the embryos and transferring a month later once the result is known.

  • 7

    What are the 5 stages of IVF?

    The 5 stages of IVF are: 1. Ovarian stimulation 2. Ultrasound Monitoring 3. Egg retrieval 4. Embryo development 5. Embryo transfer