If you're interested in learning more about in vitro fertilization (IVF), read on to find out what the process entails. You'll also learn about the potential risks and benefits associated with this fertility treatment option.

What is the Process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process of fertilization where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, in vitro (“in glass”). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a liquid in a laboratory. After the fertilized egg (zygote) undergoes embryo culture for 2–6 days, it is implanted in the same or another woman’s uterus, in a procedure called embryo transfer. IVF is a type of assisted reproductive technology used for infertility treatment and gestational surrogacy. A fertilized egg may be implanted into either the woman’s cervix or uterus.


The process of IVF typically involves the following steps:
  • Ovulation induction: Medications are given to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs.
  • Egg retrieval: The eggs are removed from the ovaries using a needle.
  • Fertilization: The eggs are combined with sperm in a laboratory.
  • Embryo transfer: The embryos are transferred to the uterus.
IVF can be performed using your own eggs and your partner’s sperm. If you’re unable to use your own eggs, you may use donor eggs.


Complications can occur with any medical procedure, but IVF is generally considered safe. Risks associated with IVF include:
  • Multiple births: IVF increases the risk of twins or triplets. A single pregnancy is healthiest for both the mother and the baby.
  • Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): OHSS is a condition that can occur when the ovaries are stimulated. Symptoms include bloating, nausea, diarrhea, and shortness of breath. OHSS can be mild, moderate, or severe. In rare cases, it can be life-threatening.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: This occurs when the embryo implants outside the uterus, usually in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies can be dangerous and must be treated with medication or surgery.
IVF is generally safe, but it’s a complex and expensive procedure. You may want to consider other fertility treatments before you try IVF.
Dr. Carolyn Alexander explains the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is a method to fertilize sperm outside of the body. Dr. Alexander’s step-by-step explanation can help anyone interested in IVF understand the procedure and decide if IVF is right for them.

About Dr. Alexander

Dr. Carolyn Alexander is a board-certified Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility specialist. She completed her medical degree from the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. In addition to being a passionate OB/GYN and fertility specialist, Dr. Alexander also enjoys teaching, educating both students and patients. She has been featured in the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, KTLA, Redbook, Bustle, MindBodyGreen, WebMD, and the TV series Arranged.

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Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. Ask your doctor for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.