When couples are advised to undergo IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) treatment for a successful pregnancy, they often ask how long IVF takes from start to finish. Well, first thing that should be known about IVF is that it is not a single treatment, rather a series of procedures which, on an average, span across 6 to 8 weeks.
Now, let’s go over the average IVF cycle week by week.
The first week of the IVF cycle
The first week consists of visits and consultations. The first visit or initial consultation is where the clinic or hospital takes an extensive record of you and your partner’s entire medical history.
It is at this stage only that you should get all your doubts and queries answered. It is best you know all about what you are getting yourself into. It is better to be informed rather than ignorant. It is during these consultations only that you get to know all about the medications you’ll have to take during your IVF cycle, when and how you have take them, and also about the procedure schedule.
Week two, three & four
It is at this point that the administration of the procedures begins. You undergo lab tests and based on the results the doctor or fertility expert decides upon your IVF protocol. Even though the IVF procedure is same for all, yet it can still differ from person to person.
However, there are a few basic tests which are meant for everybody: blood tests, ultrasounds, infectious disease screening, uterine evaluation and male fertility tests which includes sperm analysis. Next, you are put on birth control pills to regulate your menstrual cycle and prepare your ovaries. The pills usually continue for 2 to 4 weeks after testing and diagnosis. It all depends on the length of your cycle.
Week five & six
These are the medication and monitoring weeks. Once you stop taking birth control pills, you undergo a procedure called Controlled Ovarian Hyperstimulation (COH). You can only start the COH process after you get a green signal from the ultrasound done to evaluate your uterus and ovaries.
If the fertility medications during previous weeks show that your fallopian tubes have grown to the appropriate size, an HCG is done for the final maturation of the eggs and then comes the ultrasound egg retrieval. If there is a male infertility factor included then the Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is done to increase the chances of fertilisation.
Around 3-6 days after fertilisation, an evaluation is done to monitor the embryos which have the highest success rate of surviving a transfer to the uterus.
After the IVF cycle is completed
When the transfer of embryos is completed, pregnancy tests are done about two weeks later. Then based upon the monitoring & if the results are positive, you are suggested to an OB/GYN specialist to monitor you during your pregnancy.