The process of IVF fertilization can seem mysterious, so we’re demystifying it
If you’re like most patients at The Fertility Center of Las Vegas, you probably wonder what happens during IVF fertilization in the laboratory. The other steps of in vitro fertilization are often easier for patients to understand because they take part in them. However, the fertilization process takes place behind closed doors, in a carefully controlled laboratory environment. To help you understand the important step of fertilization a little better, our Las Vegas fertility specialists are providing a brief overview of it.
This step involves much more than putting eggs and sperm together
It’s true that IVF fertilization does involve an egg and sperm coming together. However, so much more is involved during the in vitro fertilization process.
By this stage, our Las Vegas fertility specialists have guided the patient through ovarian stimulation, monitoring and egg retrieval. The male partner or a sperm donor has also provided a semen sample. This sample contains the sperm that will fertilize the eggs.
After the outpatient egg retrieval procedure, the eggs and sperm will end up in the IVF laboratory. From there, our highly trained andrologists and embryologists will take over.
Preparing the eggs and sperm for fertilization is very important. This consists of isolating the eggs from their follicular fluid and the sperm from the semen. The andrologists in the laboratory will also analyze the sperm a final time.
Traditional fertilization consists of placing the eggs in separate petri dishes and then adding a drop of the prepared sperm. Then, similar to the process that occurs in a woman’s body, the sperm will attempt to penetrate the outer barrier of the egg (the zona pellucida) and fertilize it. IVF fertilization is complete when a single sperm has broken through the egg’s outer barrier.
Fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is the technique that our Las Vegas fertility specialists use instead of traditional fertilization. This technique requires an embryologist to take a single sperm and use a tiny needle and a microscope to inject the sperm directly into the egg. Doing so allows the sperm to bypass the zona pellucida to achieve fertilization.
What happens after IVF fertilization?
Regardless of the fertilization method, the next step is to monitor the growth and development of the resulting embryos over the next few days. During this period, the embryos will spend most of their time in an incubator that strives to mimic the conditions of a woman’s reproductive tract.
When the time is right, our Las Vegas fertility specialists will freeze the embryos for a frozen embryo transfer (FET) cycle. If a patient would like to pursue preimplantation genetic testing (PGT), our embryologists will take a small biopsy of each embryo to send for analysis before the freezing process begins.
Once it’s time for the embryo transfer, the embryologists will thaw an embryo. Then, one of our fertility doctors will transfer the single embryo to the uterus of the intended mother or a gestational surrogate. From there, our team will monitor the woman for signs of pregnancy. As for the remaining frozen embryos, they can remain in storage for future family-building attempts.
Contact us if you would like to learn more about in vitro fertilization or any other fertility treatment. Our team is here to help make your dreams of parenthood come true.