retrieving eggs for freezing

IVF process steps

IVF process steps and IVF timeline by day: from fertility evaluation to embryo transfer & pregnancy. Consulting with a fertility specialist will provide you with a more accurate timeline tailored to your information.

September 13, 2023

Step 1. Fertility evaluation 

Every IVF process starts with a fertility evaluation of both partners. The goal of fertility assessment is to evaluate all possible reasons that may contribute to infertility. To start, the doctor or nurse will collect a comprehensive medical, reproductive, and family history and perform appropriate physical examination. Based on your individual medical and infertility history and preferences, your doctor would define what diagnostic tests would be needed to identify factors affecting infertility. If you are looking for a clinic to do a fertility assessment, you can check our database of fertility centers, which includes information on pricing and clinical outcomes.

Step 2. Preparation

The step is often missed, but it takes a lot of time, coordination, and research. It contains: 

  • Admin preparation (scheduling the IVF cycle based on your menstrual cycle and doctor’s availability, receiving training from the nurses, signing forms, transferring your previous medical history, and ordering medications)
  • Preparing your body and mind (lifestyle and nutrition changes to improve fertility, acupuncture for fertility, and preparing for the rollercoaster of emotions, hormonal stimulation, and waiting for the results)

Step 3. Ovarian stimulation

As a part of the IVF process, you will undergo ovarian stimulation by taking fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries and promote the development of multiple mature eggs. This usually takes around 8 to 14 days, with regular monitoring through ultrasound scans and blood tests.

The medication stimulation ends with a trigger shot to provoke ovulation that is performed 36 hours before the retrieval.

Step 4. Egg retrieval

Once the eggs have matured, the egg retrieval procedure is performed. It is a minor surgical procedure done under sedation or anesthesia. A thin needle is inserted through the vaginal wall into each ovary to retrieve the mature eggs. The procedure usually takes about 20-30 minutes.

The male partner has to bring the sperm sample at least 60 minutes before the procedure to make it for the next step - fertilization.

Step 5. Embryo stage

After the eggs are retrieved, they are combined with sperm in the laboratory to facilitate fertilization. This can be done through traditional IVF, where the eggs and sperm are placed together in a culture dish, or through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected directly into each mature egg.

The fertilized eggs, now called embryos, are cultured in the laboratory for 4-5 days to allow them to develop further. At this stage, if you decide to do genetic testing of embryos, the developed embryos are frozen, and genetic material is taken for further analysis.

Step 6. Embryo transfer

Depending on whether your uterus is ready for the transfer and if the genetic testing is to be performed, you and your doctor will decide whether a fresh or frozen embryo transfer procedure will be performed. In the final stage, one or more embryos are transferred into the uterus through a thin catheter. The transfer is typically performed without anesthesia and, takes up to 30 minutes, and doesn't require hospitalization. The number of embryos transferred depends on various factors, including age, embryo quality, and the patient's preferences.

Step 7. Pregnancy test

Following the embryo transfer, you may need to wait for about 14 days for a pregnancy test to determine if the IVF cycle was successful.

IVF timeline by day

The timeline for a fresh IVF cycle may look like this:

  • Fertility assessment (flexible timeline)
  • Start of the injections (cycle day 2)
  • Ovulation stimulation (injections of medication with monitoring visits 8-14 days)
  • Egg retrieval (takes around 15 mins, and you have to stay at the clinic for 2-3 hours to recover from anesthesia under the supervision of a nurse)
  • Fertilization and culture of embryos (4-5 days)
  • Fresh embryo transfer (on the 6th day after egg retrieval)
  • Pregnancy test (14 days after the transfer)

If you are doing a frozen embryo transfer, the overall process may take up to 2 months as you will start preparing for your transfer on the second day of your next menstrual cycle. During 10-14 days, you will have monitoring appointments and may be prescribed additional medication to prepare the uterus for the transfer. 

It's important to note that these timelines are general guidelines, and individual circumstances may lead to variations in the process and timelines. Consulting with a fertility specialist will provide you with a more accurate timeline and tailored information based on your specific situation.

If you are looking to start your IVF process, find the best fertility clinic near you.

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