Health Library

Five Things to Know about IVF

Main Article Content

Providing Treatment and Hope for Infertility

Twelve percent of women have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. Fortunately, women have many innovative options for a wide range of conditions related to infertility. In vitro fertilization (IVF) may be an option to discuss with your fertility specialist.

IVF involves the use of medication for eight to 12 days to help a woman’s eggs grow. The eggs are retrieved in a quick office procedure. Those eggs are fertilized with the woman’s partner’s sperm or with donor sperm and one or more embryos are transferred back into her uterus. The rest of the embryos can be frozen for future use. With IVF, it is now possible for millions of women to build their families.

5 Things You Should Know About IVF

IVF is highly effective.

First developed in the 1970s, IVF continues to be one of the most advanced and highly effective options for fertility treatment. Many factors can influence an individual's or a couple’s chance for success, including the age of the woman and her and/or the couple’s diagnosis. Northwestern Medicine prides itself on treating some of the most difficult cases of infertility, and our outcomes are better than the national average.

IVF may be an option even if you have a complex medical condition, if you are a same-sex female couple wanting to share maternity or a same-sex male couple using an egg donor and gestational carrier to build your family.

Infertility is equally associated with male and female causes. Infertility can occur for complicated reasons and may be an option even if you have:

  • Fallopian tube damage that prevents sperm from getting to the egg properly. This can be caused by pelvic inflammatory disease, pelvic tuberculosis or previous pelvis surgery.
  • Ovulation disorders, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can cause a hormone imbalance that impacts ovulation.
  • Premature ovarian failure, which is caused by an autoimmune response or by premature loss of eggs.
  • Endometriosis, which occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows elsewhere, such as in the ovaries, fallopian tube and other pelvic spaces.
  • Uterine fibroids, which are benign tumors that grow in the muscle of the uterus and are a common finding in women of reproductive age.
  • A partner with male factor infertility.

Your journey will be unique to you.

Medication types and dosages, and your treatment options will be based on your individual medical situation and needs. Before you start, you’ll undergo preliminary medical testing, an assessment of your ovarian reserve and an evaluation of your uterus to make sure everything is functioning properly. You and your doctor are a team and will work together to create a treatment plan that works for you.

Prepare yourself.

It’s important to understand the process before you decide it’s right for you. Choose a fertility specialist who will answer your questions and provide the support you deserve. If you decide to pursue IVF, seek emotional support from a friend, family member or therapist.

Your care team is here to support you.

Northwestern Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Medicine offers a compassionate team of highly trained nurses, sonographers, embryologists, psychologists and other professionals who work together to provide coordinated care and support you on every step of your journey. They are there to help you through the process.

Learn More

Learn more about fertility treatment from Northwestern Medicine Fertility and Reproductive Medicine. Nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report in gynecology, you’ll have access to the most leading-edge treatment options available. You will also be taken care of by board-certified physicians who have decades of experience and have helped thousands become parents. For more information, visit fertility.nm.org.

Interested in connecting more to the Northwestern Medicine community? Sign up for the Healthy Tips E-Newsletter for everything from health and wellness ideas to patient breakthroughs to academic and medical advancements. Because what makes us better, makes you better.