We know that a fertility journey can seem like a daunting thing – and when at the starting line, it can look long and confusing. But it doesn’t need to, your fertility doctor can help make sense of the steps up to and including IVF. At Fertility Partnership we have an organized way of approaching infertility.
Please take a moment and watch Dr. Elan Simckes as he explains his original and successful approach to the infertile couple he calls SEMS.
Below is a summary of what each step looks like. Our team is here to help if you have any further questions, get in touch today.
Your initial consultation is what it sounds like – this is the first time you’ll meet with your doctor, and the team that’ll be with you on your fertility journey. We will ask a lot of questions and review any records that you bring from prior clinics. We’ll answer any questions you might have.
During this meeting, you’ll also have an ultrasound, and there may be blood tests if required for your unique journey. The doctor will likely make a treatment plan for you if your situation is completely understood, or, make a plan to improve our understanding of your specific condition and plan for diagnostic testing. You can find out more about what to expect in this first visit here.
Some people (women who are not ovulating) will only initially require ovulation induction with Clomid or Femara. Others may go straight to Intrauterine insemination. While others will need to go straight to IVF.
If your plan leads to In Vitro Fertilization this is what you can expect.
This process lasts 8-14 days, and essentially is just giving you hormonal medication that stimulates the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. This is usually administered through injections, and they increase the hormones that are already naturally occurring in your body.
This is necessary to increase the chance of success during the fertilization process.
Once the ovarian stimulation is complete, and you have an increased number of eggs available, the egg retrieval process will happen. This will require some light sedation. This is where the eggs that will later be fertilized are collected.
During this procedure, an ultrasound probe is inserted into the vagina to properly find the follicles that house the eggs. Once found, a needle is guided through the vagina and into the follicles, the eggs are then gently removed from the follicle.
Once you have the eggs – whether using a donor, or your own – sperm collection will take place. The most common method here is to ejaculate 2-5ml of sperm into a sterile cup, either in a private room onsite in your fertility clinic, or at home. For men who do not have sperm because of a vasectomy or another condition where there is sperm in the testicle but not in the ejaculate. This is when we extract sperm from the testicle in a process called TEFNA.
Fertilization & embryo development.
At this point in the process, the fertilization of your eggs takes place by injecting the sperm into the eggs. This is a complex process that your fertility team will handle very carefully. On average, most patients will have 70-85% of their mature eggs successfully fertilize.
The next day is important. Our embryologist will call you and let you know how many eggs are successfully fertilized. The embryology team will keep you apprised of your embryos progress as they develop..
It’s time for the big day, and we’re thinking sticky thoughts! The embryo transfer is a simple procedure, and anesthesia or sedation is rarely required.
At Fertility Partnership we usually transfer on day 5, but we sometimes do day 3 transfers. We say “It is never day 5 or bust…it is day 3 if we must!” Also, most people will have their embryos frozen (day 5 only) and return a couple of months later for transfer.
Then there is the question of how many embryos to transfer. This can v be a lively debate! At Fertility Partnership we try to follow the recommendations of the American Society For Reproductive Medicine but we often tailor our plan to suit your situation and desire. Once this decision is made, the process is simple. A long, thin catheter containing the agreed upon number of embryos is passed through the cervix into the uterus, where the embryo or embryos are released.
After 10 days, cross your fingers – you can test!
The process of IVF is not one that you go through alone. Your fertility team is there to help you along each and every step. Here at Fertility Partnership in St. Louis, we pride ourselves on going the extra mile to make this a comfortable and affordable experience for you.