Veteran's Health Library Menu

Health Encyclopedia

Health Encyclopedia

Browse using the A to Z guide for Health Encyclopedia Back To Health Library Home

In Vitro Fertilization

For some fertility problems, your doctor may recommend in vitro fertilization (IVF). During IVF, sperm and egg are combined outside the body in a lab. The fertilized eggs (embryos) are then placed in the uterus to grow. In most cases, IVF is done using hormone medications to increase the chances of success. Be sure to talk with your health care provider about the details, success rates, and costs of this procedure.

How IVF Works

There are 4 common steps during IVF:

  • Hormone medication is used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs.

  • The mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries by guiding a thin needle through the vagina. Sedation is used to prevent pain.

  • Sperm is combined with the eggs in a lab. Alternatively, a single sperm can be injected directly into an egg. This process is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

  • A few days after fertilization, the health care provider places one or more eggs into the uterus. Using multiple embryos improves the odds that at least one embryo will implant. However, it also means there is a chance of a multiple pregnancy.

The success rate of IVF depends on the woman’s age and the reason for the infertility. Side effects of IVF can include multiple pregnancy and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.

Using Frozen Embryos

Although many embryos are created during an IVF cycle, only a certain number are placed in the uterus. The rest may be frozen for later use. This prevents the woman from having to go through another cycle of egg stimulation and retrieval. Please note that you may not use all your frozen embryos. You can choose to have them disposed of through the center and/or donate them to other infertile couples.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 9/25/2014
Help improve the VHL. Share your opinions! Click here for brief survey

VHL Web Tour Video - Opens in a pop up window

Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
Disclaimer - Opens 'Disclaimer' in Dialog Window | Help | About Veterans Health Library