In vitro fertilization

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In vitro fertilization (IVF): Fertilization outside the body, which forms an embryo and is placed into the woman's uterus. 

In vitro fertilization (IVF) literally means fertilization outside the body. IVF is the treatment of choice for a woman with severely damaged, or blocked/absent fallopian tubes and severe male factor infertility.  It is also used in cases of endometriosis and in couples with unexplained infertility.

IVF involves a number of minor procedures with the goal being to obtain eggs and sperm that will be combined in a laboratory dish to assist fertilization.

1. The eggs will be removed from the ovary by a minor surgical procedure called egg retrieval and the eggs will be placed in a dish in a special incubator.

2. Sperm are added to the dish containing the eggs and fertilization takes place in the lab.

3. If the egg fertilizes and begins to divide/grow to form an embryo, the resulting embryo will then be placed into the woman’s uterus by means of a small plastic tube. This procedure is called embryo transfer.

4. The embryo transferred will hopefully implant and further develop to result in a clinical pregnancy. j

5. Finally, the pregnancy may progress to a live birth with the delivery of a baby.

To learn more about IVF, visit the UofL Physicians Health Library article on or call the UofL Physicians Fertility Center at 502-588-4400.