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In Vitro Fertilization
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is In Vitro Fertilization?

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process where sperm and an egg are joined together outside of the body to create an embryo. The embryo can then be inserted into a mother's womb.

Fallopian Tube, Ovary, and Uterus
Fallopian Tube, Ovary, and Uterus
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

IVF is done to help a woman become pregnant when there is difficulty becoming pregnant naturally.

It is most often done when infertility is due to:

  • Damaged fallopian tubes
  • Ovulation disorders
  • Cervical factors
  • Male factors, such as low sperm count or poor-quality sperm

Possible Complications

If you are planning to have IVF, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Still not being able to become pregnant—Older women (over age 40) are less likely to conceive and carry to term.
  • Having multiple babies
  • Ectopic pregnancy (embryo develops outside the uterus)
  • Anesthesia-related problems
  • Short- and long-term adverse effects from fertility drugs
  • Ovarian rupture (rare)

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • Cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, or severe nausea or vomiting
  • Any unusual...