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In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization

Over three decades ago, the advent of in vitro fertilization (IVF) revolutionized reproductive medicine for hundreds of thousands of individuals and couples with infertility. It is estimated that several million babies have been borne as the result of the contributions of Dr. Robert Edwards and Dr. Patrick Steptoe, the fathers of IVF.

In order to understand how IVF works, it is important to understand how fertilization occurs under normal situations.

Fertilization

Each month during the middle of her cycle, a woman ovulates an oocyte (egg) into the fallopian tube. After intercourse, millions of sperm are deposited into the vagina, with only a few dozen swimming through the uterus and into the fallopian tube. When one sperm penetrates the egg, fertilization occurs. The resulting embryo travels down the fallopian tube for four or five days, multiplying into many cells. The embryo then enters the uterus, where it implants and grows over the next nine months.

IVF bypasses the fallopian tubes. The doctor removes the egg(s) from the ovary immediately prior to ovulation and places it in a petri dish with sperm from the husband and/or donor. After several days, the doctor transfers the embryos into the woman’s uterus for implantation and pregnancy.

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Who qualifies for IVF?

When IVF was first attempted, its application was limited to women with absent or severely damaged fallopian tubes. Since then, uses for IVF have greatly expanded to include couples with male infertility (e.g. low sperm count, immunological infertility), patients with severe endometriosis, unexplained infertility and those with a variety of other fertility-related conditions. There are four central steps in the IVF process: induction and timing of ovulation, oocyte retrieval, fertilization and embryo transfer. We have provided a description of each.

Team approach

IVF is a complicated procedure involving physicians, scientists, laboratory technologists, nurses and many others. You can rest assured that each team member of Abington Reproductive Medicine is highly trained and qualified to help you through your procedure, answer questions and coordinate your cycle.


Emotional aspects of IVF

While IVF can offer new hope to those who may otherwise be unable to conceive, it also has the potential to create added stress. Participants must be monitored closely and so much emphasis is placed on precise timing. Participants must also face the possibility that their attempts may fail or be cancelled. While most are able to cope with the various stresses associated with this procedure, all patients should be aware of the various counseling and support outlets available to them. 

If you have questions regarding your in vitro fertilizaion (IVF) treatment coverage, contact Karen Merlini, Financial Coordinator at:
kmerlini@abingtonreproductive.com