The decision to proceed with in vitro fertilization (IVF) can be one of the most important and difficult a couple can make. The amount of information and details involved in an IVF cycle can seem overwhelming, and many questions arise throughout the process.
At Fertility Specialists of Texas, it is our goal to provide the highest quality in IVF care, including educational tools and emotional support. While most of the treatments and procedures involve the woman, we encourage the partner to be as much a part of the IVF cycle as possible. The importance of the emotional support of the partner cannot be overemphasized. Daily injections, frequent appointments, ultrasounds and blood tests are required of the woman, in addition to the egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Therefore, we encourage the partner to administer the injections and attend appointments whenever possible. IVF is an exciting commitment that couples make to each other as they work together to fulfill their dreams of having a baby.
There are many different causes of infertility, some of which are definite indications that IVF may be the treatment of choice. For example, tubal obstruction means the sperm and the egg cannot meet in the tube, but since IVF bypasses the tubes, pregnancy becomes truly possible. Another factor best treated by IVF is a very low sperm count in the male. In IVF sperm are placed together with the eggs in a petri dish and are therefore not required to swim through the cervix, uterus and into the tube to fertilize the egg. During IVF, an additional procedure can also be performed in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg. This is known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and is addressed in more detail on the male factor page in this website.
IVF is often the most efficient and quickest route to pregnancy for a woman who is over 35. IVF may also be recommended for a patient with unexplained infertility who has undergone several unsuccessful attempts with fertility medications and intrauterine insemination (IUI). As you explore your diagnosis and treatment options with your physician, you and your partner can consider whether IVF is right for you. All patients and their partners are required to complete a thorough infertility evaluation prior to beginning their IVF cycle.
You may have already completed most of the required testing with your initial fertility evaluation. Your nurse will go over your file and will let you know what else may need to be done. The following tests may be ordered:
- If you have had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG), your fertility specialist will want to review the results to rule out the possibility that you have a hydrosalpinx.
- Your partner will have a semen analysis to assess the concentration, motility and morphology, and a semen culture to check for the presence of bacteria.
- Your uterine cavity will be evaluated by saline infusion sonohysterogram (SHG, or SIS) to make sure there are no abnormalities such as uterine polyps or fibroids, which may interfere with implantation.
- A trial transfer will be performed at the time of the SIS to measure the depth of the uterine cavity so that the embryos can be transferred into a predetermined location within the cavity during the actual IVF cycle.
- Blood tests for you and your partner will be ordered by the doctor.