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HomeHealth articlesin vitro fertilizationIn Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - Overview | Uses | Risks | Side Effects | Success Rates

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

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In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), which is used to treat infertility. Read the article to know more about it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Meeta Bansal

Published At December 29, 2018
Reviewed AtAugust 1, 2023


In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a type of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), which is used to treat infertility. In IVF, mature eggs are retrieved from the ovaries, and these eggs are fertilized by sperms in a lab to form embryos. The embryos are then implanted in the uterus. This process roughly takes about two weeks. IVF is the most successful form of ART. It can be done with your and your partner’s eggs and sperms, or by using eggs and sperms from a known or anonymous donor. Sometimes, the embryos are implanted in a surrogate (gestational carrier).The chances of having a healthy baby using IVF depend on your age and the cause of infertility. It is an invasive, expensive, and time-consuming process, with no guarantee of a successful outcome. Sometimes, it might also result in a multiple pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks and different methods of treating your infertility. You can try less invasive methods like fertility drugs and intrauterine insemination before opting IVF.

What Are Its Uses?

IVF is the treatment of choice for infertility in women above 40 years of age. It can also be done in the following health conditions:

  • Blocked or Damaged Fallopian Tubes – If your fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged, then it is difficult for the egg to fertilize or for a fertilized egg to move to the uterus.
  • Ovulatory Disorder – If you do not ovulate or ovulate less frequently, then only a few eggs will be available to form an embryo.
  • EndometriosisEndometriosis causes extrauterine growth, which affects the function of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes.
  • Premature Ovarian Failure – It is the loss of the normal function of the ovaries before the female reaches 40 years of age. It affects the production of estrogen and ovulation.
  • Fibroids – Fibroids are benign tumors. Fibroid in the uterus can interfere with the implantation of the embryo.
  • Tubal Ligation or Removal – If you have had your fallopian tube removed or blocked to prevent pregnancy previously, but want to conceive now, IVF might be useful.
  • Fertility Preservation – People who are about to get treatment that might affect their fertility, can have their eggs or sperm harvested and frozen for later use.
  • Unexplained infertility.

What Are the Tests to Do Before Starting IVF?

Before beginning the process, you and your partner need to undergo various screening processes. These tests include ovarian reserve test, semen analysis, screening for infectious diseases, mock embryo transfer, and examination of the uterine cavity.

What Are the Things to Consider Before Beginning IVF?

  • The Number of Embryos to Be Transferred – The number of embryos is usually based on the age and number of eggs collected. As the implantation rate is lower in older patients, more embryos are transferred. So, discuss this with your doctor properly before you start the treatment, as there are changes of a multiple pregnancy.
  • Storage of Extra Embryos – Extra embryos can be frozen for many years and can be used in future cycles of IVF. This will make the next cycle of IVF less invasive and less expensive.
  • The Possibility of a Multiple Pregnancy – There are chances that IVF will result in a multiple pregnancy. You should be financially and mentally prepared to manage twins, triplets or higher multiple pregnancy.

What Are the Steps Involved in IVF?

There are basically five steps involved in IVF, which are Stimulation, Egg retrieval, Fertilization, Embryo culture, Embryo transfer.

1. Stimulation: It is also called superovulation. If you have decided to use your own eggs for the process, then you will be given synthetic hormones to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple ova (eggs). You will be prescribed various medicines for:

  • Ovarian Stimulation – Injectable medication containing follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), or a combination of both.
  • Oocyte Maturation – You will be given human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to help mature the developing eggs.
  • Prevent Premature Ovulation – You will be prescribed few medicines to prevent your ovaries from releasing the matured egg too soon.
  • Prepare the Lining of Your Uterus – The day when the eggs are collected, the doctor might give progesterone supplements to make the uterus lining more receptive to implantation. During this period, the doctor will perform regular blood tests and ultrasounds to monitor the process of egg maturation and will decide when to retrieve the egg accordingly.

2. Egg Retrieval: It is also called follicular aspiration. It is a surgical procedure that is done under anesthesia, where the doctor with the help of ultrasound, will guide a needle through your vagina into the ovary. This needle will suction eggs and fluid from each egg-containing follicle. Multiple eggs are collected within 20 minutes. The mature eggs are then placed in a culture medium and incubated.

3. Fertilization: It is the process of fertilizing the collected eggs with sperms to form embryos. It can be done using two methods:

  • Insemination: After receiving the semen sample, the mature eggs and healthy sperm are mixed in a petri dish and incubated overnight.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): If insemination fails, then a single healthy sperm is injected into each mature ovum to form an embryo.

4. Embryo Culture:The fertilized eggs are monitored to ensure development. The embryos might be tested for genetic conditions at this stage.

5. Embryo Transfer:The embryos are transferred back into your uterus after two to six days of egg collection. It usually is a painless procedure and done under mild sedation. The doctor will place the embryo using a catheter.If the process is successful, the embryo or embryos will get implanted in your uterus. This entire process takes about 6 to 10 days.


The risks associated with IVF are as follows:

  • Multiple Pregnancy – Multiple pregnancy is considered a high-risk pregnancy, as it carries a higher risk of preterm labor and underweight baby.
  • Ectopic Pregnancy – When the embryo gets attached outside the uterus, it is called an ectopic pregnancy. The rate of ectopic pregnancy in IVF treated women is 2 to 5 %.
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) – Due to the fertility drugs like HCG, the ovaries can become swollen and painful. The symptoms are abdominal pain and bloating, nausea, diarrhea, etc.
  • Bleeding – During egg retrieval, the needle can cause bleeding, infection, and damage the bowel and bladder.
  • Stress – IVF can be physically, financially, and mentally draining.

Side Effects After the Procedure:

After the process, you might have the following side effects:

  • Vigorous activities can cause discomfort as the ovaries will be enlarged.
  • You can pass a small amount of clear or bloody fluid.
  • Your breasts might be tender due to high estrogen levels.
  • Bloating.
  • Abdominal cramps.

Success Rates Of IVF:

The success rate of IVF treatment can be either calculated by the number of women who got pregnant, called the pregnancy rate, or the number of women who gave birth to a live baby, called live birth rate.

The pregnancy rate in the United States is:

  • Women under 35 years – 47.6 %
  • Women 35 to 37 years – 38.9 %
  • Women 38 to 40 years – 30.1 %
  • Women 41 to 42 years – 20.5 %
  • Women above 42 years – 8.6 %

And the live birth rate is:

  • Women under 35 years – 40.7 %
  • Women 35 to 37 years – 31.3 %
  • Women 38 to 40 years – 22.2 %
  • Women 41 to 42 years – 11.8 %
  • Women above 42 years – 3.9 %

Deciding when and how to undergo IVF treatment again after a failed attempt can be a tough and stressful situation. Talk to your doctor about the various options and the best way for you to conceive.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the In Vitro Fertilization Process?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a complex process used to help with fertility. It can also prevent a genetic problem. It aids in the conception of a fetus. The in vitro fertilization process is done in the laboratory by collecting or retrieving mature eggs from ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm.


How Many Eggs Can Be Fertilized Through IVF?

Approximately, more than ten eggs are taken from a female. It should be noted that all the eggs would not be viable for usage in the process of in vitro fertilization. Few reports suggest that two-thirds of the collected eggs have the maturity for the procedure.


What Are the 5 Stages of IVF?

The in vitro fertilization process consists of five stages:
- Stage 1: Medication. A hormonal injection is given to the woman to stimulate and develop healthy eggs.
- Stage 2: Harvest the eggs.
- Stage 3: Fertilization.
- Stage 4: Embryo culture.
- Stage 5: Embryo transfer.
- Delivery of baby.


Is IVF Procedure Painful?

In several cases, in vitro fertilization injections are not very painful, but the woman can experience a stinging sensation. The needle used in the in vitro fertilization injection is very tiny and does not cause much pain. For mental and emotional stability, you can ask your partner or your friend to stay nearby while the doctor injects the in vitro fertilization drug.


What Is the Best Age for IVF?

Age is an important factor to be considered for the process of in vitro fertilization. Younger couples are known to have high success rates. If a woman trying for in vitro fertilization is below the age of 35, such individuals have a chance of higher fertilization rates. If a woman crosses the age of 40, then the chances gradually decline.


Does IVF Work the First Time?

Women younger than 35 will get pregnant and have a baby with their first in vitro fertilization egg retrieval and subsequent embryo transfer about half the time. Women who don't get pregnant following the first in vitro fertilization cycle still have excellent chances of getting pregnant on second, third, and even more in vitro fertilization cycles.


How Does In Vitro Fertilization Work?

The process of in vitro fertilization takes about 30 days. In this process, the eggs are retrieved or collected from the women. These eggs are known to be obtained from the female ovaries. Similarly, sperm is collected from the men, and they are fertilized in a laboratory. After successful fertilization, the embryo is transferred to the female uterus. The process is carefully monitored.


How Common Is In Vitro Fertilization?

The preference for this treatment procedure varies with different cultures. According to the CDC reports, nearly one percent of childbirth in the United States of America is known to be achieved by the process of in vitro fertilization.


What Can I Do to Help Implantation After IVF?

You can help with the process of in vitro fertilization by following a few diets that will enhance the chances of implantation. Having a balanced diet that is rich in fiber content and proteins would help. You should avoid foods that are rich in dietary value. Fishes that have high mercury content should be avoided. Consult a doctor and ask for recommendations regarding the diet plan.


What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant With IVF?

The success rate of IVF cycle with women under the age of 35 is 40 percent. However, there is a four percent success rate for women above 42 years of age. Factors to consider the IVF success rate are the woman's pregnancy history and if it was with the same partner.


How Many Injections Do You Need for IVF?

The body type and requirements of each and every individual are different. Your doctor will formulate a treatment plan that is specific to your health condition. But in general, nearly one or two injections are given for one cycle. In some patients, one or two doses are given each day.


What Is the IVF Process Step by Step?

The various steps involved in the in vitro fertilization process are:
- Step 1: Day 1 period. The first official day of the IVF treatment cycle is day 1 of the period.
- Step 2: Stimulating the ovaries.
- Step 3: Egg retrieval.
- Step 4: The sperm collection.
- Step 5: Fertilization.
- Step 6: Embryo development.
- Stage 7: Embryo transfer.
- Step 8: The final blood test.


How Long Does IVF Take?

In the IVF cycle, mature eggs are retrieved or collected from the ovaries. Retrieved eggs are fertilized with good quality of sperm in a lab. Finally, the fertilized eggs are transferred to the uterus. Nearly three weeks is required to complete one full cycle of in vitro fertilization.


How Do I Prepare My Body for IVF?

Below are the top five tips for preparing your body for your in vitro fertilization cycle:
- Stop drinking alcohol, smoking & reduce caffeine usage.
- Eat food which enhances fertility.
- Look for alternative fertility therapies.
- Concentrate on consuming food with high-quality vitamins.
- Commit to relaxation techniques.


When Should I Start IVF?

The process of in vitro fertilization will be successful if you adopt a few lifestyle changes three months before the treatment procedure. Few specific changes in dietary patterns and other health tips are necessary to be followed before going for in vitro fertilization. If your health condition is right, then the success rate for in vitro fertilization is higher.


How Many Days Rest Is Required After IVF?

The most critical part of in vitro fertilization lies in the initial stages of the treatment procedure. The duration of 24 hours after the embryo has been transformed into the uterus is very crucial. The women require a lot of rest and relaxation during this period. This will help in the successful attachment of the embryo to the wall of the uterus.


What Tests Are Done Before IVF?

At first, the women will undergo ovarian reserve testing before starting the procedure of in vitro fertilization. In ovarian reserve testing, it involves collecting the blood samples from the women and testing the FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone). From this test result, the doctor will come to know about the size and the quality of the eggs. Also, the doctor will examine the uterus of women.
Dr. Meeta Bansal
Dr. Meeta Bansal

Obstetrics and Gynecology


in vitro fertilization
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