Everything You Need To Know About IVF Clinics
Infertility struggles are more common than most people realize. It is one of the hardest things women or couples have to go through. But there is hope.
You can find many different fertility clinics offering a wide variety treatments depending upon what’s causing your infertility.
You have natural fertility boosters like myo-inositol and vitex. You have fertility drugs. You have many different surgical options and assisted reproductive technologies.
Modern science has given many women the chance to carry their own baby.
Right now, I want to focus on clinics offering IVF in particular. This method has risen in popularity over the past few decades, and I want to tell you all about it.
If you are considering IVF – or if you know somebody who is – this is everything you need to know about the process, the clinic, the cost, and more.
What Is IVF?
IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization, which is a form of assisted reproductive technology. It works like this:
- A doctor at a fertility clinic will retrieve the eggs from the woman
- Then her partner will provide a sample or a sperm donor will be retrieved
- The egg will be fertilized by the sperm in a laboratory
- Finally, the fertilized egg will be placed directly in the uterus
This process is one IVF cycle. Sometimes extra eggs are fertilized and then frozen for future use, just in case the first cycle is unsuccessful or the couple wants another child down the road.
Normally couples who have struggled with infertility issues ranging from endometriosis or ovulation problems to low sperm counts can benefit from IVF.
Though hundreds of thousands of babies have now been born through IVF, it is a relatively new procedure.
The first successful IVF pregnancy happened in 1978 in England.
What Can You Expect When You Visit An IVF Clinic?
Of course every fertility clinic will be different, but below I’m going to show you a general process for going through IVF.
If you want a more personalized explanation of the IVF process, there is a fabulous YouTube video created by a couple that documented every step of their IVF journey.
It is nearly 30 minutes long, but it is a great tool to help you understand these steps below as well as the emotions that go along with them:
Anytime you first visit a fertility clinic, you will have a consultation. The doctor will want to know everything about you.
Your health history, your family’s health history, and a rundown of what you’ve tried so far. They will also need to learn about your family planning goals.
Next comes any necessary testing. They may go over results of previous tests and/or order new tests to understand exactly what is going on with your eggs, your hormones, you uterus, etc. If you have a partner, they will test sperm count, motility, and other things like that.
Once all the information is gathered, the doctor will confirm or deny whether or not you are a good candidate for IVF. If IVF is right for you, you will move on to the next step.
2. Egg Stimulation
To give each IVF cycle the best chance of success, the doctors want more than one egg. And the eggs need to be healthy.
This means the eggs are stimulated for extra growth. This step involves shots, sometimes even multiple shots, each day for over a week.
During this time doctors will normally pay close attention to your hormones by taking blood tests and pay attention to the progress of the eggs by using ultra sound. This ensures they know the perfect time to retrieve the eggs.
Sometimes the clinic will put you on short-term birth control pills before this stimulation process so your body does not ovulate on its own. This helps them control the production of eggs.
3. Egg Retrieval
Now that you have multiple eggs, the doctors will then retrieve the eggs through needle aspiration.
This is not as scary as it may sound. You will not be cut, there is normally no pain after the procedure, and you can go on with your day as planned.
Expect the procedure to take somewhere between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
On the same day as the egg retrieval, your partner will need to provide a sperm sample (or the sperm donor sample will arrive).
The IVF clinic will fertilize the egg by hand and then watch each new fertilized egg very carefully.
5. Embryo Transfer
The number of days between fertilization and the embryo transfer will vary depending upon the progress of the embryo. The clinic will call you when they are ready for you to come in.
Putting the embryo into the uterus is actually even easier than taking the eggs out of the ovaries. Sometimes they will only place one embryo, other times you will have multiple embryos. This is why many women have twins or triplets after using IVF.
After a few hours of observation and rest, you are free to go home. A few weeks later you will come in for a pregnancy test to see if the IVF cycle was successful.
Does It Work?
The success rate of IVF greatly depends on lots of factors. Your age, the reasons why you struggle with infertility, your health, and even some luck all play a factor.
On average, however, IVF cycles end in pregnancy 29.4% of the time. And live births happen in 22.4% of IFV cycles.
How Much Does IVF Cost?
Each IVF cycle is extremely expensive. In the United States, one cycle of IVF will typically cost somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000. Though one report on Forbes showed the costs might be closer to $20,000.
Keep in mind many couples actually go through multiple IVF cycles before successfully getting pregnant. So the cost could multiply exponentially.
Some choose to have some of the embryos frozen on their first IVF cycle in case it doesn’t work. Trying again with one of the frozen embryos is cheaper – somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000 each time.
Counting on insurance to cover it? Don’t get your hopes up.
Some states in the U.S. do have mandatory infertility coverage, but that does not mean they have to cover IVF specifically. It may cover fertility drugs or other treatments. Others will have a lifetime max amount for fertility treatments. Which means if you are one of the lucky ones with IVF coverage, it may only last for one cycle.
Check out Resolve’s state-by-state fertility scorecard map. You can see if your state has insurance mandates.
Make sure you look into IVF financial aid programs. Some clinics offer refund programs if the IVF is unsuccessful. Some offer financing options.
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The Right IVF Clinic For You
If you want to try IVF, you will want to ensure you find just the right fertility clinic.
If you are the in the United States, Fertility Authority has an extremely helpful fertility clinic map by state. See which clinics are nearby and do your research. Ask other local couples about their experience.
And remember you do not have to go through with the IVF if you do not feel comfortable with the initial consultation. Get another consultation at a different clinic and find the one that feels best for your needs.
Is An IVF Clinic Right For You?
Whether or not IVF will be right for you depends on lot of different factors. First you have to look at the cause of your infertility. Though IVF can help many couples, it is not always the perfect fit for every situation.
Then you have to consider the cost. Many couples are simply unable to provide such a high expense out of pocket. But make sure you do plenty of research to see what financial aid services are available to you before you give up due to finances.
If IVF doesn’t feel right, there are many other options to explore. But if IVF is the path you want to travel down, you know have the basic info you need to proceed with confidence.