In-vitro fertilization is used to treat the infertile couple in whom other conventional forms of treatment have either failed to produce the desired pregnancy or in whom those other treatments are inappropriate. The physicians at the South Florida Institute for Reproductive Medicine have been performing IVF procedures since its inception in 1991.

The first reported IVF pregnancy resulted in the birth of baby Louise Brown in 1978. Since that initial procedure, the technique has been refined and improved, leading to a dramatic increase in pregnancy rates. Although IVF originally was used in patients with absent or severely damaged fallopian tubes, IVF is now being utilized to help patients with endometriosis, oligospermia (low sperm count), abnormal sperm function, or long-standing infertility of undiagnosed (or unknown) origin. IVF involves the use of medications to stimulate the formation of multiple follicles, each of which contains an egg, in the woman’s ovaries. The process of ova (egg) maturation is monitored very carefully with blood tests for estradiol (the estrogen from the developing egg) and by sonograms, to document the number of developing follicles and their diameters. Once the appropriate follicle sizes and blood estradiol levels are achieved, hCG is administered to induce the final follicle and egg maturation.

Transvaginal (through the vagina) oocyte (egg) aspiration under ultrasonography (or, less commonly, by laparoscopy) is carried out about 35 hours later, prior to the anticipated time of ovulation (egg release). The eggs are identified in the laboratory where they are placed in union with the man’s sperm. The eggs are then examined closely (under a high powered microscope) for signs of fertilization eighteen to twenty four hours later. Developing embryos are maintained in an in-vitro culture system and are transferred to the woman’s uterus three to five days later. Two weeks later we hope to have a positive pregnancy test!