Fertility Blog

Demystifying IVF: Your Questions, Answered

While you’ve likely heard of in vitro fertilization (IVF), there can be an air of mystery surrounding it. Yes, it can help you conceive, but how does it work and is it the best fertility treatment for you? Let’s demystify IVF and answer some common questions about the process.

1. How Long Should I Wait Before Trying IVF?

You may wonder how long you should try to get pregnant before turning to a fertility treatment like IVF. In general, you should seek help from a fertility doctor after one year of trying to get pregnant. If you’re over 35, you should seek assistance after six months of trying. If you have a hormonal disorder like endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a doctor may recommend you try fertility treatments sooner.

2. Am I a Good Candidate for IVF?

IVF is a suitable option for many family-building dynamics, including patients with infertility, LGBTQ+ couples, or intended single parents. Some common causes of infertility that may warrant IVF include:

  • Low sperm count
  • Endometriosis
  • Ovulation disorders
  • Unexplained infertility

No two couples, bodies, or situations are the same, so it’s best to consult a fertility specialist for a customized treatment plan.

3. How Successful Is IVF?

Success rates vary on a variety of factors, including age, infertility diagnosis, reproductive history, and sperm count. While having a successful pregnancy isn’t a guarantee, IVF is the most successful solution for those struggling with infertility. In fact, over 9 million babies have been born using reproductive technologies like IVF.

4. How Long Does the Process Take?

IVF is a multi-step process, and it can take anywhere from four-six weeks to complete an IVF cycle. The process involves:

  • Hormonal medication to stimulate ovulation
  • Collecting the eggs via a minor surgical procedure
  • Combining eggs and sperm in a lab
  • Transferring the fertilized embryos into the uterus

You may not be successful on your first IVF attempt. In fact, it’s not uncommon for patients to go through multiple IVF cycles before successfully getting pregnant.

5. Am I More Likely to Have Multiples with IVF?

You and your doctor will decide how many embryos you wish to get implanted. If your doctor implants a single embryo, you won’t have multiples. However, given the uncertainty of success, many patients decide to implant multiple embryos at once to increase the chances of pregnancy. In this case, the odds of having twins or triplets increase.

6. What Are the Side Effects of IVF?

IVF requires hormonal medications to stimulate ovulation and give you the best chance of conceiving. Common side effects include mood swings, headaches, hot flashes, abdominal pain, and bloating. Potential side effects of IVF treatment itself include:

  • Mild cramping
  • Mild bloating
  • Passing a small amount of clear or blood-tinged fluid
  • Constipation
  • Breast tenderness

7. What Happens If I Get Pregnant? Or If I Don’t?

If you get a positive pregnancy test after an IVF cycle, you’ll continue to meet with your fertility doctor for blood tests. Once you get an ultrasound and the fetus’s heartbeat is verified, you’ll see an obstetrician for the rest of your pregnancy. If you don’t get pregnant, you’ll likely have to wait one or two menstrual cycles before undergoing another IVF cycle.

Get Your IVF Questions Answered

Many factors contribute to how IVF may impact you specifically. If you want to learn more about the process and how it will affect your unique situation, it’s best to consult with a reproductive endocrinologist. At Washington Fertility Center, we’re happy to answer all your IVF questions and create a personalized fertility plan to help you grow your family. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.