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How To Get in Vitro Fertilization

Know what to expect from this procedure, which has produced hundreds of thousands of babies since its own conception.


  • Step 1: The woman should start taking hormone injections to help her produce multiple eggs each month. When they're ready to be harvested, the doctor will remove them from her ovaries with a hollow needle, a procedure that takes about 30 minutes under mild sedation or full anesthesia. The man donates sperm that gets mixed with the eggs the same day.
  • Step 2: A few days later, the woman must return to the clinic to have the embryos implanted into her uterus through her vagina. To increase the chances of pregnancy, most fertility experts recommend that three or four embryos be transferred, but some couples opt for less to prevent a multiple pregnancy.
  • Step 3: Rest for several hours after the procedure; then go home. Return to the clinic for a pregnancy test in about two weeks. Good luck!
  • FACT: Louise Brown, the first IVF baby, born in England in 1978, now has her own child, who was conceived naturally.
  • Step 4: Research IVF clinics. Ask about their pregnancy ratio per embryo transfer, their success rate for couples in your age group and with your type of fertility problem, their annual live birth rate, their rate of multiple births, the cost of storing embryos, and how long they are kept.
  • TIP: Age is a factor in success rates: A 30-year-old woman who undergoes IVF has a 34.7 percent chance of having a baby, while a 40-year-old woman has a 15.2 percent chance.
  • TIP: Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive naturally after one year of unprotected intercourse.
  • Step 5: Explore other fertility options – like fertility drugs, surgery, or artificial insemination –before turning to IVF, a complicated and expensive procedure that is only partially covered by insurance, if at all.
  • Step 6: If you decide on IVF, know how it works: Eggs are fertilized with sperm outside the body to form embryos, which are then placed in the woman's uterus.
  • Step 7: Ask your doctor if you're a candidate for IVF. It's an option for couples who are having trouble conceiving due to endometriosis; low sperm counts; sperm that either can't penetrate or can't survive cervical mucus; or problems with the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovulation. It's also used by couples with unexplained infertility.

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