IVF is an assisted reproduction technique in which an egg fertilized outside of a woman's body is transferred into her body. Many IVF treatments involve administering fertility medications to a woman to mature more than one egg in each cycle. Immediately before ovulation, a doctor retrieves the eggs and unites them in the laboratory with sperm either from the patient's partner or a donor. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the woman's uterus for implantation. If successful, pregnancy is confirmed two weeks later with a pregnancy test.
Below is a brief overview of common IVF protocols and their distinguishing features.
Conventional IVF protocols are designed to produce a high quantity of eggs by treating patients with multiple daily injections and higher doses of medication as compared to Minimal Stimulation IVF and Natural Cycle IVF.
Mini-IVF™ stimulates the ovaries with minimal medication, uses a uniquely thin, flexible needle to retrieve the eggs resulting in briefer, less painful egg retrievals. Also, Mini-IVF™ uses a nasal spray trigger (Synarel) for ovulation induction instead of hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) which has fewer side effects compared to conventional IVF.
Natural Cycle IVF is a drug and chemical-free protocol. It avoids fertility drugs that would otherwise stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. The underlying principal of this procedure is to capture the single egg your body naturally produces each month during your menstrual cycle.
If your egg or your partner's sperm is not viable for pregnancy, donor eggs and sperm offer an alternative route to having a baby. Donor Egg IVF cycles generally use conventional IVF treatments to maximize the number of eggs that the donor can provide each cycle. Most donor sperm is purchased from frozen sperm banks.
In cases where a surrogate carries your genetically matched child, gestational surrogacy, surrogate IVF is available to retrieve your eggs and fertilize them with sperm from your partner or a donor. The embryos are then implanted into your surrogate's uterus.