In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in a laboratory. IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. If you're struggling with infertility, IVF may be a treatment option for you. Learn more about the steps involved in IVF and what you can expect during treatment.

With in vitro fertilization (IVF), eggs are removed from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm in a lab.

IVF is the most common and effective type of assisted reproductive technology (ART). ART also includes less common procedures, such as:

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – In ICSI, a single sperm is injected into an egg.
  • Assisted hatching – Assisted hatching is often done along with IVF. It helps the embryo attach to (implant in) the lining of your uterus.
  • Donor eggs and sperm – Donor eggs are sometimes used when the woman cannot produce eggs. Donor sperm may be used when the man produces too few sperm or his sperm are not able to fertilize the woman’s eggs.
  • Gestational carrier – A gestational carrier is a woman who carries and delivers a baby for another couple. The carrier has no genetic relationship to the baby.

IVF is often used when:

  1. The woman has blocked fallopian tubes.
  2. The man has a low sperm count.
  3. The woman has endometriosis.
  4. The woman has a history of multiple miscarriages.
  5. The couple has unexplained infertility.

Steps in the IVF process

  1. Fertility drugs are used to stimulate the ovaries to develop multiple eggs.
  2. The eggs are then removed through a needle inserted into the ovary.
  3. The eggs are fertilized with sperm in a lab.
  4. The fertilized eggs are incubated for several days until they develop into embryos.
  5. One or more embryos are then inserted into the woman’s uterus through a small tube.


You’ll need to make several office visits during the first few weeks of the process. These visits may be to:

  • Check for ovarian reserve
  • Check for uterine abnormalities
  • Evaluate your partner’s sperm
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