What is in vitro fertilization (IVF)?

March of Dimes
In vitro fertilization (also called IVF) is a kind of fertility treatment. If you have IVF, an egg and sperm are combined in a lab to create an embryo (fertilized egg) which is then transferred (put) into your uterus.

The March of Dimes recommends that most women on IVF have just one embryo placed in the uterus. This is called single embryo transfer (also called SET). If your fertility specialist recommends IVF, ask about SET. Learn more at: marchofdimes.org/fertility.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is used when a woman has blocked or absent fallopian tubes, when a man has a low sperm count or for other causes of infertility not responding to conventional treatment.

In IVF, drugs are given to stimulate multiple eggs to develop, and then eggs are removed from the ovary and mixed with sperm outside the body in a petri dish. After about 24 hours, the eggs are examined to see if they've been fertilized and are growing. Some of these fertilized eggs (embryos) are then placed in the woman's uterus.

The average cost of an IVF treatment in the United States is about $12,000.
John K. Jain, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)

Reproductivve endocinologist Dr. John Jain explains what in vitro fertilization (IVF) is and describes the process. Watch Dr. Jain's video for information on reproductive health.

Jeffrey S. Klein, MD
Diagnostic Radiology
In vitro fertilization (IVF) refers to fertilization taking place outside the body in a laboratory Petri dish. There, the egg of a female partner or donor is joined with sperm. With IVF, the ovaries must be hyper stimulated, usually with fertility drugs, allowing retrieval of multiple mature eggs. After three to five days of incubation, the fertilized egg (embryo) is inserted in the uterus and normal pregnancy should result.
Eric Flisser, MD
Reproductive Endocrinology
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a procedure that involves retrieving eggs and sperm from the bodies of the male and female partners and placing them together in a laboratory dish to enhance fertilization. Fertilized eggs are then transferred several days later into the female partner's uterus, where implantation and embryo development will hopefully occur as in a normal pregnancy. IVF is performed by physicians who specialize in reproductive medicine and have received additional education and training in the evaluation and treatment of male and female infertility. IVF was originally developed in the early 1970s to treat infertility caused by blocked or damaged fallopian tubes. In 1978, the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in the United Kingdom. Since then, the number of IVF procedures performed each year has increased, and the success rate has improved significantly.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.