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In vitro fertilization (IVF)

What is IVF?

IVF is an assisted reproductive technology typically used after other forms of fertility treatment have not resulted in pregnancy or other treatments are not an option.

How does IVF work?

During IVF, eggs collected from a woman's ovaries and sperm collected from a man are joined together in a lab to form embryos. Two, or sometimes three, embryos are transferred to a woman's uterus to establish a pregnancy. In most cases, IVF is done using hormone medicines to increase the chances of success.

Why is IVF used?

Your healthcare provider may recommend IVF for:

  • Age-related infertility: Women who are unable to produce enough quality eggs should consider IVF using an egg donor where the comparable birth rate per cycle can be expected to be above 50 percent, provided the egg donor is under age 35.
  • Endometriosis: Endometriosis is associated with the presence of "toxins" in the pelvic secretions that surround the fallopian tubes. Regardless of whether fertility drugs are used, or whether IUI is performed, the egg or eggs will inevitably become exposed to "toxic" pelvic secretions as they enter the fallopian tube(s), leaving these options ineffective in the treatment of endometriosis-related infertility. IVF bypasses this problem.
  • Immunologic infertility: Because of the cost and extensive nature of immunotherapy, and the fact that some therapies must be repeated in a short amount of time, IVF is a favored method to achieve pregnancy. The immunotherapy treatment can be given early in the IVF cycle for maximum effectiveness.
  • Male infertility: While other treatments are available, none are as effective as IVF for treating moderate to severe cases of male infertility. With the relatively recent introduction of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the use of IVF for male infertility has become as successful as when used for the treatment of female-related infertility. ICSI involves injecting a single sperm directly into each egg to achieve fertilization.
  • Post tubal ligation: Certain types of tubal ligation are reversible, and some are not. If too much tube has been damaged in the ligation process, the tube cannot be repaired. The woman's age, as well as how many children the couple would like to have, can also play a factor in the decision to use IVF versus having surgery.
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis: Couples that experience recurrent pregnancy loss or the inability to conceive due to a genetic abnormality may benefit from preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) during IVF. Other problems that can be addressed by PGD are hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs.
  • Recurrent failure with intrauterine insemination: IVF becomes the treatment of choice if three or more intrauterine insemination (IUI) gonadotropin-stimulated cycles (where ovulation was successfully induced and sperm counts were acceptable) do not result in pregnancy.
  • Tubal damage, pelvic inflammatory disease and pelvic adhesions: IVF performed in an optimum setting offers more than double the birth rate following a single month of treatment than what can be achieved within two or three years following surgery.
  • When there is no apparent cause for infertility and the woman is over 35 years of age and/or when the couple has failed to conceive using other types of treatment, IVF becomes the treatment of choice.

Gundersen also offers other types of assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

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