What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization or IVF is the process of manually combining sperm with an egg in a laboratory dish for fertilization. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus. IVF is often used to treat infertility due to a decreased sperm motility or sperm count, ovulation disorders or uterine fibroids, or with individuals who suffer a genetic disorder, which results in infertility.

From stimulation to retrieval, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a four-step process, which may be the best option for you and your partner. A consultation allows you to review all your pregnancy options and decide what next steps to take.


Starting from the time of the initial consult with the doctor, it takes about 4-6 weeks, on average, to go through the treatment process. However, a pregnancy will not usually take place until approximately 8 weeks after the first consultation. If you’re aiming for a pregnancy within a certain month, consider this timespan when planning.


Not everyone is a good candidate for IVF. Some women can get pregnant on their own or with minimal assistance. It’s best to explore all alternative options first. Prior to undergoing the IVF procedure, there are several diagnostic tests which are performed.

A semen analysis is required for the male to measure the sperm count, check how they’re shaped, and see how well they’re moving. With this analysis, the doctor can check for any abnormalities.

For the female, an egg quality assessment is performed on the third day of the menstrual cycle. During an ultrasound, the doctor will count the number eggs on each ovary and match it with the FHS level. FHS is a follicle stimulating hormone produced by the brain responsible for developing the egg every month. This will determine where a woman is in her fertility status.


The decision to undergo IVF is one that should be thoughtfully considered. After consulting with doctors and/or specialists with regards to all potential options, you and your partner should discuss the possibility of IVF in full. Research and the setting of proper expectations can help prepare a couple before undergoing the process.

Family planning takes careful consideration on several levels, but when equipped with the proper resources and an esteemed facility to help move forward in a positive direction, it’s easier to start feeling hopeful for the future.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves four basic steps:

  • 1. Stimulation

    Most women start their menstrual cycle with a crop of eggs, and by mid-cycle, they have a single mature egg. With IVF, the ovaries are stimulated to produce many eggs and most of them are matured. This is accomplished with fertility medications.

  • 2. Retrieval

    Once the eggs, which are contained in the follicles, mature, the patient is then ready for their egg retrieval. This involves a mild, sedative anesthetic. Once the patient is anesthetized, Dr. Littman uses ultrasound guidance to retrieve the mature eggs with an aspiration needle. This is all done through the vagina, so there are no scars. The eggs are removed through the needle and given to the embryologist who identifies them and places them into a dish. Contrary to popular belief, this all takes place in a small dish, not a test tube.

  • 3. Fertilization

    Once the eggs have been retrieved, they are fertilized. Fertilization can occur naturally, where the sperm are placed in the dish and the fastest, luckiest sperm fertilizes the egg. Or, in cases of sperm with poor motility, fertilization can occur via intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where the sperm are injected directly into the egg.

    We have a certified class 5 clean room IVF laboratory and excellent embryologists, approximately 90% of mature eggs retrieved at our center fertilize successfully.

  • 4. Transfer

    After fertilization, the embryos are placed in our triple gas incubators, which most closely replicate the environment of the uterus. They are then grown out to day 3 or day 5 after which they are transferred into the woman’s uterus. This is done by placing a small catheter through the cervix and is a painless procedure and requires no anesthetic.

    Depending on the quality of the embryos, there is an approximately 30-80% chance the transferred embryo(s) will produce a pregnancy. With further steps and testing, our Ultra IVF protocol, which includes PGS testing, significantly increases the chance for a successful pregnancy.