In Vitro Fertilization 101 - An IVF Overview
In vitro fertilization (IVF), a procedure in which eggs and sperm are collected and combined outside of the body, makes it possible to bypass numerous problems that commonly interfere with fertility. Even more problems can be addressed through advanced techniques that are used in combination with IVF. In addition to in vitro fertilization alone, our Chicago, Illinois practice also offers procedures like PGD, ICSI, and egg donation.
Who Needs IVF?
In vitro fertilization was initially developed as a remedy for missing, damaged, or blocked fallopian tubes, but has proven to be an effective treatment for a variety of fertility obstacles, including endometriosis; some types of male factor infertility; and infertility that is immunologic or unexplained.
However, IVF is not required for the majority of fertility patients. Besides being an expensive treatment, in vitro fertilization requires a substantial time commitment. At our practice, we try to find the least invasive treatment to effectively overcome fertility problems. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of patients who seek medical assistance for infertility undergo conventional medical or surgical treatment and succeed in having a baby. The remaining 20 to 30 percent may benefit from an assisted reproductive technology such as IVF.
Standard In Vitro Fertilization
Standard In Vitro Fertilization in its most basic form, in vitro fertilization involves the retrieval of oocytes (eggs) and obtaining sperm, which are combined in a controlled setting to achieve fertilization. Once fertilization has occurred and normal embryonic development has been confirmed, one, two, or three embryos depending on embryo quality are placed back inside the uterus. Any remaining embryos can be preserved for use in future IVF cycles.
Learn about this process in more detail and find out what to expect while undergoing in vitro fertilization by visiting our IVF Procedure page. You can also read Dr. Jacobs' article about the IVF process (PDF).
Micromanipulation / Genetics
Although in vitro fertilization is a valuable and generally effective procedure on its own, there are even more advanced procedures that can be performed in conjunction with IVF, such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and preimplantation genetic diagnosis / screening (PGD / PGS). ICSI involves isolating a single, healthy sperm cell and injecting it directly into the egg. This technique has been successful for couples with severe forms of male factor infertility. ICSI is now performed routinely for many couples. PGD allows couples who carry a life-threatening genetic disease to minimize the chances of passing the condition on to their child. Learn more about these techniques by visiting our Micromanipulation / Genetics page.
Gender Selection / Family Balancing
If you want to be sure that your next child will be the gender you need or desire, no other gender selection method comes close to the success or reliability of IVF with PGD (greater than 99.9%). Using IVF and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) for gender selection, male and female embryos are identified and only embryos of the desired sex are transferred to the uterus. At our Chicago area IVF clinics, this is the method of sex selection we recommend. Whether doing PGD gender selection for prevention of sex-linked genetic diseases or for 'family balancing', the embryos can also be screened by our genetics team for aneuploidy (abnormal chromosome count). The aneuploidy screening process allows for the detection of various genetic count abnormalities. PGD for gender selection IVF pregnancy success rates are similar to regular in vitro fertilization success rates and sex selection rates approach 100%. Learn more about family balancing and gender selection by visiting our Micromanipulation / Genetics page.
Using a Donor
IVF with egg donation makes it possible for women with premature ovarian failure or otherwise unusable eggs to experience the process of pregnancy and childbirth, breastfeed, and raise a child of their own. Likewise, donor sperm can help when the male partner has a very severe form of infertility or when there is no male partner available. Find out how donated sperm or eggs are used by visiting our Using a Donor page.
Using a Gestational Carrier
In vitro fertilization technology also allows women who, for medical reasons, cannot carry a pregnancy to nevertheless have a biological child with the help of a gestational carrier. Learn more about this process, often referred to as IVF surrogacy, by visiting our Surrogacy page.
Contact Our In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Center in the Chicago, Illinois Area
Learn more about in vitro fertilization (IVF) by contacting our Chicago, Illinois-area practice.