One of the most common questions we receive is also one of the most important: how long does IVF take?
Typically, the process can take anywhere from 4weeks – 12weeks, depending on a variety of factors we will outline below.
Step 1: Consultation
Before starting IVF, you will need to have an initial consultation. At this step, you can expect a detailed discussion and health screening with the physician, as well as some testing recommendations, including hormone levels, a vaginal ultrasound to look at your uterus and ovaries, sperm testing, and because human tissue (egg and sperm) are being used in the laboratory, mandatory infectious disease testing.
Step 2: Stimulation
The next step in the process depends on the patient and their ovaries.
Some patients might start birth control pills with their period. Why birth control pills? It’s actually quite interesting! In your typical menstrual cycles, you will have numerous follicles start growing, which each contains an egg. In the usual process, one follicle will “win out” and develop faster than the others, which triggers your other follicles to stop growing. For an IVF procedure, however, you’ll want to have many follicles growing and developing, since it allows for more eggs to work with. As a result of taking birth control pills, the follicles can sometimes grow at a much more consistent rate with one another. That consistent growth will mean that you’ll have multiple follicles growing to maturity at the same time.
Other patients might skip birth control pills and start stimulation with their period. This usually happens in older patients or patients with less eggs because birth control pills can be too strong and actually cause them to have less eggs develop.
Step 3: Stimulating the Ovaries
Over a period of about two weeks, you will receive fertility medications to stimulate your ovaries into producing multiple eggs. Fertility medications come in pill and injection form. Usually you are using these medications every day until your follicles are the right size and there are mature eggs. Over the course of those two weeks, you are coming to the office every few days so the doctors can monitor your response and adjust medications as necessary.
Step 4: Triggers and Egg Retrieval
After your eggs have reached the proper size, you will receive an injection that will trigger the final stage of your eggs’ maturation. Then, approximately 34-36 hours after the injection, the egg retrieval process can begin.
For the retrieval procedure, physicians will use an ultrasound and a needle to extract the eggs. The process is actually quite quick, usually lasting less than thirty minutes and with anesthesia, you won’t feel a thing!
Step 5: Fertilization and Transfer
Once the eggs have been extracted, they are mixed with your partner or donor’s sperm. The resultant embryos will be monitored for an average of 5-6 days, after which you can come back in for a fresh embryo transfer and 9 days later you will take a pregnancy test (4 weeks total). Another option is to freeze the embryos to be used the next month or at a later time. Just as before, 9 days after transfer, you will take a pregnancy test (8-12 weeks total).
Your health and well-being are our top concern at Reproductive Health & Wellness Center, and we’re here for you at every step in your journey. If you have any further questions about IVF and fertility treatments that we can assist with, or if you’d like to schedule a consultation to learn more about our services, please call us at (949) 516-0606.