IVF Explained: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Process | Sparsh Hospital

Published in : Women & Children | July 7, 2024 |

How Does IVF Work? A Step-by-Step Guide to the Process

Medically ReviewedMedically Reviewed

Blog Banner

What is IVF?

In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) has revolutionised the field of reproductive medicine, offering hope to countless people and couples struggling with infertility. This advanced assisted reproductive technology has helped millions of people worldwide to overcome the challenges of conceiving and building the families they’ve always dreamed of.

The journey of IVF can be exciting and daunting, filled with a range of emotions, from the anticipation of a successful outcome to the occasional setbacks. This blog aims to provide an in-depth knowledge of the IVF process, its potential side effects, and the factors that influence its success rates.

How does IVF work?

IVF is a multi-step process that involves the fertilisation of a woman’s egg by a man’s sperm outside the body, particularly in a sterile lab environment, followed by the transfer of the resulting embryo(s) back into the woman’s uterus. The IVF process typically involves the following stages:

  • Ovarian Stimulation: The first crucial step in the IVF process is stimulating the woman’s ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs. To achieve this, doctors will administer fertility medications, which are carefully monitored through regular blood tests and ultrasound examinations.
  • Egg Retrieval: Doctors may perform a minor surgical procedure called egg retrieval once the eggs mature. During this procedure, the eggs are gently extracted from the woman’s ovaries using a thin, hollow needle guided by ultrasound.
  • Fertilisation: The fertility experts then combine the retrieved eggs with the man’s sperm in a laboratory setting, where the fertilisation process takes place. This can be done through conventional insemination or an advanced technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where doctors inject a single sperm directly into the egg.
  • Embryo Culture: The fertilised eggs, now called embryos, are carefully monitored and allowed to develop in a controlled laboratory environment for several days.
  • Embryo Transfer: Once the embryo reaches an optimal developmental stage, doctors may select one or more embryos and transfer them into the woman’s uterus using a thin, flexible catheter. The doctors may freeze the remaining embryos for potential future use.
  • Pregnancy Test: The medical team may perform a blood analysis approximately two weeks after the embryo transfer to determine whether the IVF treatment was successful and the woman is pregnant.

Potential Side Effects of IVF

Generally, IVF is a safe and effective infertility procedure, but there are some potential side effects that individuals should be aware of:

  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): This is a rare but potentially severe condition that can occur as a result of the fertility medications used during the ovarian stimulation phase. Symptoms may include nausea, abdominal pain, bloating, and shortness of breath.
  • Multiple Pregnancies: IVF can sometimes result in the transfer of multiple embryos, leading to a higher risk of multiple pregnancies, like twins or triplets. It can increase the risk of complications for both the mother and the babies.
  • Bleeding and Infection: There is a small risk of bleeding or infection following the egg retrieval or embryo transfer procedures.
  • Emotional Stress: The IVF process can be emotionally taxing, with periods of anxiety, stress, and disappointment. Seeking support from a mental health professional, family, and friends can be beneficial.

Factors Affecting IVF Success Rates

The success of IVF can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:

  • Age: Women’s fertility declines with age, and the chances of a successful IVF outcome decrease as a woman gets older.
  • Underlying Medical Conditions: Various gynaecological conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, or uterine fibroids, can impact the effectiveness of IVF.
  • Egg and Sperm Quality: The quality of the sperm and eggs used in the IVF process can significantly affect the chances of a successful pregnancy.
  • Number of Embryos Transferred: Transferring multiple embryos can increase the chance of getting pregnant, but it also increases the chance of multiple pregnancies.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Factors such as a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, and the avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can improve the chances of IVF success.

IVF Treatment Cost

The cost of IVF can vary widely and depends on several factors, including the location, the fertility clinic, the specific treatment protocols, and any additional procedures or medications that may be required.

Alternative Options to IVF

While IVF is a highly effective infertility treatment for many couples struggling with infertility, it may not be the best or only option for everyone, says Dr. Deepthi Bawa. Alternative options for IVF include:

  • Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): This less invasive procedure involves inserting the sperm directly into the woman’s uterus, with the goal of increasing the chances of fertilisation.
  • Adoption: Adopting a child can be an alternative to building a family through biological means.
  • Surrogacy: In some cases, individuals or couples may choose to work with a surrogate (who carries the baby in the womb and gives birth to the child).
  • Egg or Sperm Donation: Utilising donated eggs or sperm can be an option for people or couples who cannot use their own.

Emotional and Psychological Considerations During IVF

The IVF journey can drain a female emotionally and psychologically, with periods of hope, anxiety, and disappointment. It’s essential for individuals and couples undergoing IVF to prioritise their mental health and seek guidance when needed.

Some common emotional and psychological challenges during IVF may include:

  • Stress and anxiety related to the treatment process, potential side effects, and the uncertainty of the outcome
  • Feelings of loss, grief, or disappointment if the IVF treatment is unsuccessful
  • Relationship strain and communication difficulties between partners
  • The feeling of uneasiness due to financial burden and the impact on work and personal life

To address these challenges, seek support from a therapist or counsellor who specialises in fertility-related issues. Joining a support group can also be beneficial. It is a means of connecting with others who are going through similar experiences.

Tips for Finding a Reliable IVF Clinic

Choosing the right IVF clinic is a crucial step in the journey, as it can significantly affect the overall success and experience of the treatment. When searching for a reliable IVF clinic, consider the following tips:

  • Research Credentials and Experience: Look for a clinic that is accredited by reputable organisations, such as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and has a team of experienced, board-certified reproductive endocrinologists and embryologists.
  • Evaluate Success Rates: Compare the clinic’s success rates, which are typically available on their website or through the SART (Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology) website, to national averages.
  • Consider Patient Testimonials: Read reviews and testimonials from previously treated patients to get a sense of their experiences and satisfaction with the clinic.
  • Assess Communication and Patient Support: Ensure that the clinic has a responsive and supportive staff who are willing to answer your queries and address your concerns throughout the IVF process.
  • Inquire about Treatment Approaches: Understand the clinic’s approach to IVF, including the specific protocols and technologies they use, to ensure they align with your preferences and needs.
  • Evaluate Accessibility and Convenience: Consider the clinic’s location, parking availability, and appointment scheduling to ensure they fit your lifestyle and travel requirements.


In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) has transformed the lives of countless individuals and couples grappling with infertility, offering them the opportunity to accomplish their dreams of starting a family. This comprehensive blog has explored the various aspects of the IVF process, from understanding the steps involved to addressing the potential side effects and factors that influence success rates.


Dr. Deepthi Bawa

Senior Consultant -Gynecologist, IVF Specialist, Laparoscopic & Cosmetic Gynaecology

3 Mins Read

Categories: Women & Children

Get in Touch with SPARSH Hospital

How Does IVF Work? A Step-by-Step Guide to the Process is available for appointments. Please fill the below form to book an appointment.

Most recent Health Blogs

Unlock the door to exceptional healthcare, book an appointment with SPARSH Hospital and let your journey to wellness begin.