In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

With its high success rates, Columbia University Fertility Center has both the expertise and the resources to help you achieve pregnancy. Our state-of-the-art lab has air quality 1,000 times cleaner than ambient air in order to give each embryo the best environment in which to develop.

In vitro fertilization is used to treat infertility in couples. It involves extracting a woman's eggs, fertilizing the eggs in the laboratory with sperm, and then transferring the resulting embryo(s) into the woman's uterus through the cervix, where it can develop into an ongoing pregnancy.

IVF is the most common form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and it is often the treatment of choice for women with blocked, severely damaged, or absent fallopian tubes. IVF is also used for infertility caused by endometriosis or male factor infertility. IVF is sometimes used to treat couples with long-term unexplained infertility who have not been able to conceive with other infertility treatments. More than one IVF cycle is sometimes needed.

For patients and couples who have not achieved success through IVF injections, Columbia University Fertility Center now offers an experimental, injection-free ovarian stimulation for IVF called Columbia Oral IVF or Coral-IVF.

How IVF Works

The IVF process takes several steps:

  1. Ovulation Induction: First, hormone medication (most commonly gonadotropin injections) is used for approximately 8-10 nights to stimulate the woman’s ovaries to produce multiple follicles, which contain the eggs. Periodic ultrasound examinations and blood tests are used to monitor these follicles and measure hormone levels.
  2. Egg Retrieval and Fertilization: Next, when the follicles have reached the appropriate size, the eggs are retrieved non-invasively via transvaginal oocyte retrieval. This procedure usually lasts less than 30 minutes under conscious sedation. The eggs are then combined with sperm in our on-site, state-of-the-art laboratory for fertilization. The eggs are assessed, and fertilized eggs will develop into embryos.
  3. Embryo Transfer: If a fresh embryo transfer is being planned, an embryo is transferred through a small catheter into the uterus usually after five days growing in the lab, but sometimes after three days. This is a simple procedure that does not require anesthesia. If there are any remaining embryos, they may be frozen for future transfer.
  4. Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): It is becoming more common to freeze all the embryos after IVF. This allows the hormone environment to go back to normal and may be safer for women and their pregnancies. It also allows time to perform preimplantation genetic testing on embryos if that is desired. In this process, the uterus is prepared for pregnancy by providing hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, or relying on a woman’s own natural cycle, and the embryo is thawed and placed in the uterus at the proper time.

About ten days after the transfer, you will return to the office for a blood pregnancy test. If your test results are positive, your pregnancy will be followed for eight to ten weeks via additional blood work and pregnancy scans by a sonographer or physician. Once it is established that the pregnancy is developing normally, your care will be transferred to an obstetrician.