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In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves collecting eggs and sperm from you and your partner and placing them together in a laboratory dish for fertilization. Days later the microscopic embryos are transferred into the uterus where implantation and pregnancy will hopefully occur.
The IVF procedure is a four step process and usually occurs over a few weeks:
STEP I: Ovarian Stimulation. Medication is used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple ovarian follicles (eggs).
STEP II: Egg Retrieval. Eggs are retrieved via follicle aspiration, in which a very thin catheter is carefully guided by ultrasound to withdraw the entire contents of the follicle, including the egg.
STEP III: Fertilization. Sperm is collected, washed and placed together with the egg to fertilize. The fertilized eggs are allowed to develop for a few days.
STEP IV: Embryo Transfer. A catheter containing an optimum number of embryos is gently inserted into the uterus and the embryos are transferred back to the mother. Two weeks later a simple blood test will verify pregnancy.