In Vitro Fertilization

IVF Process

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is an advanced method of assisted reproduction that helps couples, single parents, LGBTQ+ individuals, and anyone struggling with infertility grow their family. The process includes several steps to work toward a successful egg retrieval, fertilization of an egg with sperm, and embryo transfer.

Step 1: New Patient Consultation

As a new patient at the Fertility Institute, a consultation allows us to get to know you and create an effective treatment plan based on your needs. This is also your opportunity to ask any questions you have about the process, patient responsibility, and treatment commitment.

During your consultation, we can review what the IVF process looks like. For most patients, one IVF cycle will last around 6-8 weeks from start to finish, or longer, depending on your personal situation. For some patients, it may also require more than one cycle to achieve a successful pregnancy.

Step 2: Fertility Testing

Following your consultation, our fertility specialists will recommend fertility testing for you and your partner to help us best understand your needs. We’ll review your family and medical history in depth and perform bloodwork and physical exams to check your hormone levels and number of potential eggs. We may also recommend a small, minimally invasive procedure to check for any structural causes of infertility, such as chronic conditions, fallopian tube blockage, cysts, or uterine fibroids.

Step 3: Ovarian Stimulation & Monitoring

If you’re supplying your own eggs for IVF treatment, our fertility specialists will prescribe medication to stimulate egg production. While only one egg is typically released per month during a natural menstrual cycle, ovarian stimulation creates the release of multiple mature eggs for our specialists to collect. This process is called controlled ovarian stimulation, and it is done to maximize the number of mature follicles in the ovaries.

If you are using your own eggs in IVF, this step is vital to increase the chances of creating multiple healthy, viable eggs during the ovulation cycle. There are multiple treatment protocols to complete this process, allowing our healthcare team to personalize a treatment plan that optimizes your success based on the information gathered in your initial evaluation.

The Ovarian Stimulation & Monitoring Process

In general, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing hormone (LH), or a combination of both are used to stimulate the development of multiple egg-containing follicles. These hormones can be self-injected.

The number of days and the doses will vary depending on your follicle development, which our fertility specialists will closely monitor. We may prescribe additional medications to prevent premature ovulation or to prepare the lining of the uterus to accept a future embryo.

When the follicles are fully developed, usually after 8-14 days of medication, you will administer another injection, called a “trigger shot,” to initiate the final release of the mature eggs.

Step 4: Egg Retrieval

The egg retrieval is a short, minimally invasive procedure during which our board-certified fertility specialists will use a vaginal ultrasound to guide a needle through the vaginal wall into each follicle and draw out its contents, including the mature egg and its surrounding fluid. This process is called aspiration.

Once retrieved, the fluid from each follicle is immediately examined under a microscope by our embryologists for health and viability, and the egg is either frozen or fertilized.

This is an outpatient procedure conducted in our surgery center at the Fertility Institute New Orleans – Metairie office. We will give you pain medication to ensure your comfort. Due to anesthesia, we recommended that you take the following day off to rest. You can expect to return to work and your normal daily activities within 48 hours.

This step is only needed if you are using your own eggs for IVF.

Step 5: Sperm Collection

If you or your partner are supplying sperm, you will need to collect a semen sample through masturbation or collection condom at our fertility clinic. This is usually done on the same day as the egg retrieval.

If there are certain structural infertility factors involved, sperm may need to be surgically removed directly from the testicles prior to the day of egg retrieval through a process called testicular sperm aspiration (TESA).

The doctor and patient will develop a plan for sperm retrieval after an initial round of diagnostic male fertility tests, including a semen analysis. If TESA is required, it will be performed by a urologist at an outside surgery center.  

Our highly skilled team of embryologists will then separate the sperm cells from the semen fluid and examine the specimens to find the strongest, most active sperm.

Fertility Testing for Men

Step 6: Fertilization

For fertilization, the healthy eggs and prepared sperm are placed in a laboratory dish over the course of 3-5 days. It’s important to note that not all the eggs will fertilize, and not all fertilized eggs will continue to grow into embryos. This is why we collect multiple specimens.

In some cases, we may need to use a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to inject one healthy sperm directly into the cytoplasm of the mature egg. This can improve the chances of successful egg fertilization.

You will receive a phone call from our team letting you know how many eggs have successfully been fertilized.

About our Lab

Step 7: Embryo Monitoring, Testing, & Transfer

Our IVF lab diligently monitors embryos to ensure the best conditions for each stage of development. Once your embryos have developed, they will be graded by our specialists to ensure the healthiest one is transferred into the uterus for pregnancy.

It is recommended to transfer one embryo at a time in order to reduce the chances of a multiples pregnancy (twins, triplets, etc.), which can have an increased chance of complications that negatively impact the health of both parent and baby.

As needed, the IVF lab team can perform preimplantation genetic testing (PGT-A and PGT-M) on selected embryos to confirm that the embryo is clear of genetic conditions or chromosomal abnormalities that could cause health issues during the pregnancy or the baby.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Aneuploidy (PGT-A)

PGT-A tests embryos for chromosomal abnormalities. Embryos with extra or missing chromosomes, referred to as aneuploid, often fail to implant and lead to miscarriage or, if implantation is successful, lead to the birth of a child with a genetic condition. The likelihood of having aneuploid embryos also increases with age and the resulting decline in fertility.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing for Monogenic/Single Gene Disorders (PGT-M)

PGT-M tests embryos for a specific genetic disorder if one or both partners are known to be carriers of an inherited genetic disorder or disease.

Embryo Transfer

Embryos that are ready to be transferred are placed in the uterus using a catheter under ultrasound guidance. The patient is awake for the procedure, but pain and discomfort are minimal, much like a standard pap smear.

Step 8: The Two-Week Wait

After your embryo transfer, we recommend that you wait two weeks before taking a pregnancy test. The “two-week wait” can be an especially overwhelming period for our patients. In addition to leaning on your personal support system, our specialists are happy to provide additional counseling resources if needed.

Following the two-week wait, you will return to our clinic for a pregnancy blood test. We recommend that you do not take an at-home pregnancy test during the two-week wait, as they can have inaccurate results due to the fertility medications taken during prior treatment.

Start the IVF Process at the Fertility Institute

At the Fertility Institute, we are proud to help every person achieve their dream of having a baby with advanced treatments, such as IVF. To begin your fertility treatment with us, contact our offices to request a new patient consultation.

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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

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