In Vitro Fertilization Step by Step And Cost Per Cycle
Dr. Sophie Chung, MD - Medical Author & Reviewer
Posted Oct 1, 2020
Getting pregnant can be a sensitive subject, particularly if you are someone who has struggled with fertility. You may have heard about alternative options such as in vitro fertilization, typically abbreviated as IVF, but you probably still have a lot of questions and concerns.
This blog post will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about IVF in order to give you more information and address some of the concerns you may have.
What Is IVF and How Does It Work?
In vitro fertilization is what is known as an "assisted reproductive technology." Unlike other forms of reproductive assistance, this procedure manually combines an egg with a sperm sample and then transfers it back into the female's uterus.
For an IVF treatment, the first step is to extract a number of eggs from the female. These eggs are then combined with a sperm sample in a laboratory to create multiple embryos. Once the embryos have been created, they are then transplanted into the female's uterus.
The cases of successful IVF procedures have increased recently and it is one of the most widely used forms of assisted reproduction. In addition, it is one of the most flexible as well. It can be utilized by heterosexual couples, same-sex couples or single women who would like a child. However, different countries have different regulations when it comes to accessing IVF treatment.
How Much Does IVF Cost?
The cost of IVF varies wildly depending on where the treatment facility is located. Many people who receive this treatment will travel abroad to reputable clinics in order to minimize the costs involved.
Below is a list of cost estimates for the most popular countries for receiving IVF treatments.
|Country||Price (EUR €)|
Will My Health Insurance Help Cover the Cost of IVF?
In the United States, the issue of whether or not IVF is covered wholly or partially by your healthcare provider can be complicated. Because IVF is generally more expensive than other fertility services, it can be more difficult to receive assistance from your insurance company. In 15 states, there is a mandate for infertility insurance coverage. If you live in any of those states, you will be more likely to receive some level of coverage for IVF treatments. Unfortunately, if you live outside of these states, you're not likely to get any assistance from insurance providers.
The situation in the United Kingdom is similar. It is up to Local NHS providers to decide whether IVF should be funded and if so, how many cycles can be covered. Regulation differs across areas: while in Scotland women can get three full cycles of NHS-funded treatment, in England NHS-funded treatment has been restricted or halted significantly in the past couple of years.
Who Is Eligible for IVF?
Due to the nature of IVF, almost anyone can receive this treatment. Even if your home country places restrictions or limitations on it, "fertility travel" has become commonplace for both couples and individuals. IVF is accessible in so many countries that there is almost always at least one that can accommodate your IVF needs.
As far as physical or mental wellness eligibility, the rules regarding this vary by country. Generally speaking, it is recommended that women should be in good physical health and able to support a pregnancy. Men should also be in good physical health and have viable sperm present in their ejaculate.
In addition, couples who have been trying to conceive for at least two years or have unsuccessfully explored other fertility options are usually good candidates.
What Steps Are Involved in an IVF Treatment?
The IVF process actually starts long before the treatment itself. First, the woman will be prescribed a round of fertility medications in order to stimulate egg production. It is important for the woman to have as many eggs as possible available for extraction because this increases the likelihood that a healthy, viable embryo will be created.
Along with the fertility medications, the doctors will perform ultrasounds and blood tests to make sure that the woman's ovaries are healthy and that her hormone levels are where they need to be.
This step in the process involves the surgical removal of the eggs. The procedure is minor and involves guiding a hollow needle into the pelvic region to obtain the eggs. The specialist utilizes ultrasound imaging throughout the procedure to make it as quick and efficient as possible.
Throughout the operation, the woman is medicated and comfortably resting to minimize any potential pain or discomfort.
Once the eggs have been extracted, the man will be asked to provide a sperm sample to combine with the eggs. If the woman is utilizing a sperm bank, the previously selected donor sperm will be combined with her eggs, and this step is unnecessary.
Once the eggs and sperm have been collected, the process of manual fertilization can begin. This is called insemination, and it involves carefully combining the sperm and eggs in a laboratory dish.
The eggs are stored and carefully monitored to ensure that proper fertilization is happening and that the cells are dividing correctly. When this happens, the eggs are considered embryos and are able to be implanted into the woman's uterus.
In general, it can take anywhere from three to five days before the fertilized eggs have developed into embryos. As soon as the eggs have become embryos, they are transferred into the uterus for implantation.
This transfer is usually done with a small, thin tube inserted into the uterus. While this procedure is generally painless, some women do experience cramping or mild discomfort. These symptoms typically subside shortly after the procedure is completed. After the embryo transfer, it can take up to two weeks for the embryos to develop into a successful pregnancy.
What Are the Potential Risks or Complications of This Procedure?
As with any medical procedure, there are risks and potential complications. The medical team at the clinic you choose will cover this topic in-depth prior to your procedure, but you can find a list of common side effects and risks below.
Mild bloating or cramping
In addition to these side effects, there is an increased risk of bladder infection, ectopic pregnancy, or multiple pregnancy.
Where Should I Go to Have an IVF Treatment?
Ultimately, the decision about where to go to receive an IVF treatment is up to you and your partner, if you have one. Be sure to research clinics at home and abroad before making your choice. IVF is a significant physical, emotional and financial investment that should not be taken lightly. Carefully consider your fertility options, mental well-being and stress levels before committing to an IVF treatment at home or abroad.
Contact us and one of our Patient Managers will be in touch to get you started on your IVF journey.
The information in this article is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatments.