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In Vitro Fertilization (cont.)

In Vitro Fertilization Technique (Process)

Prior to the IVF Procedure

A number of screening tests are performed prior to beginning an IVF cycle. Tests typically include imaging studies such as a transvaginal ultrasound of the ovaries and uterus. In some cases, oral contraceptive pills are administered in the cycle prior to the treatment cycle. Sometimes another medication, leuprolide (Lupron) is also given during this phase, depending upon the protocol used. It may also be necessary to carry out further imaging studies of the uterus, such as a hysteroscopy.

When the treatment cycle begins, medications known as gonadotrophins are given daily by injection to promote maturation of ovarian follicles containing eggs. The woman is taught to administer the injections at home. Blood tests are carried out to measure hormone levels. While the goal is to stimulate production of multiple follicles, the actual number of developing follicles varies widely. Some women may produce 20 or more follicles, while others produce only two to three per cycle. During this so-called stimulation phase, transvaginal ultrasounds are performed frequently to assess maturation of the follicles and are performed daily toward the end of the stimulation phase.

When, according to the ultrasound results, the follicles are mature, the woman administers an injection of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). It is critical for the success of the procedure to take this injection at precisely the time that you are instructed to do so. This is the final step in the maturation process for the follicles.

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