DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic staff
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure used to treat fertility problems and assist with the conception of a child. During in vitro fertilization, mature eggs are retrieved from your ovaries and fertilized by sperm in a lab. Then the fertilized egg (embryo) or eggs are implanted in your uterus. One cycle of in vitro fertilization takes about two weeks.
In vitro fertilization is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology (ART). The procedure can be done using your own eggs and your partner's sperm, donor eggs, donor sperm or donor embryos. In some cases, a gestational carrier — a woman who has an embryo implanted in her uterus — might be used.
Your chances of having a healthy baby using in vitro fertilization depend on many factors, such as your age and the cause of infertility. In addition, in vitro fertilization can be time-consuming, expensive and invasive. If more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus, in vitro fertilization can result in a multiple pregnancy.
Your doctor can help you understand how in vitro fertilization works, the potential risks and whether this method of treating infertility is right for you.
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