IVF: What it Means {Part One}

babies

My parents, sister, and I sat down to play Pinochle (an awesome card game, by the way), and in between winning the bid and playing for tricks, my sister asked, “So, exactly what does IVF entail?”

I thought my family understood the procedure—apparently not.

Why should I be surprised, though? A lot of people do not understand what IVF—in vitro fertilization—is, which is evident from the repetitive misconceptions, assumptions, and questions I hear.

So, let me clear up a few things.

You’re Gonna Be Another Octomom

Surprisingly, I get this a lot. Rest assured, I will not end up like Octomom or Kate Gosselin. At least, it is very unlikely (less than a 3 percent chance, according to my IVF program’s website). The purpose of IVF is to have a healthy child. The operative phrase here is “a healthy child,” not twins or higher order multiples. Higher order multiples, in particular, are most often the result of a doctor transferring more than two embryos, or a woman ovulating more than two eggs in a cycle and having intercourse or undergoing intrauterine insemination (IUI) at the time of ovulation. These situations are rare and not without their ethical concerns. With what I understand about assisted reproductive technology, such cases may be avoided 99.9 percent of the time. But, it seems, sometimes desire outweighs reason.

Can higher order multiples happen from a single fertilized egg? Yes. They are called identical triplets, quadruplets, etc.

How often have you met an identical quadruplet, though? The embryos are identical because they contain an exact copy of the genetic material of one fertilized egg. One fertilized egg must spontaneously copy itself multiple times prior to implantation for this to happen. This is a completely natural event that, to my knowledge, cannot be artificially produced. Thus, IVF will not increase my chances of having identical multiples of any order.

According to an article about the Jepp’s quadruplets, a Canadian couple who delivered their identical girls in 2007, health officials estimate the odds of naturally conceiving identical quadruplets to be 1 in 13 million. Thankfully (I think), I am more likely to be struck by that proverbial bolt of lightning than to conceive higher order multiples from a single fertilized egg.

All those who had such concerns may rest easy now, knowing I will not be gracing their televisions with my gaggle of children in tow on yet another reality show. (I heard your collective sighs of relief. LOL)

You Are Guaranteed to Get Pregnant Now

Then there are those who seem to think IVF guarantees pregnancy and wonder when I will be due. IVF does not guarantee conception; in some ways, it may only guarantee fertilization.

What’s the difference?

Well, fertilization is when sperm meets egg and conception (in my humble opinion) is when the embryo implants in the woman’s uterine lining, resulting in a positive pregnancy test. My chances of conceiving with IVF are anywhere from 40 to 60 percent. That is a significant improvement to even the most fertile couple’s chance of conceiving naturally each cycle, which is anywhere from 20 to 25 percent. It, however, is not quite the same as a 100 percent guarantee.

While I do not like to think of this procedure in these terms for obvious reasons, it is important to understand that for every 10 women who undergo IVF up to six will not get pregnant. It is a heartbreaking reality and no one hopes to be one of those women, especially after all of the poking and prodding that is involved.

My chances of conceiving with IVF, or any woman’s for that matter, is based on a number of factors, including my age and whether or not I am using my own eggs. Some suggest, though, I am favored to conceive with IVF.

When I had both of my Fallopian tubes removed due to a burst ectopic pregnancy, the infertility specialist told me that studies have shown bilateral salpingectomies, for whatever reason, actually increase a woman’s chances of conceiving with IVF. She seemed to think I might have as much as an 80 percent chance of conceiving with IVF now.

To my chagrin, though, I have yet to locate any such study.

Have you considered IVF? Are you starting the process?  

Come back tomorrow for Part Two of this story – IVF: It Involves a Petri Dish, Right?

**I am not a medical professional and this post should not be taken as such but merely the sharing of what I am learning while embarking on the IVF journey in an effort to conceive.

What do you think?

IVF: What it Means {Part One}

Tammy Miesner recently joined the blogging community, combining her passion for writing and experience with infertility on her personal blog Womb Wasteland. She enjoys spending time with her active duty hubby and fur babies (two cats and a dog). Her interests include photography, reading, and genealogy. ... More

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1 comment

  1. I didn’t know anything about IVF. Good to know!

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