The IVF fertilization process is an important step on the path to parenthood
Just like natural conception, successful IVF fertilization requires a healthy egg and sperm. Our New Braunfels fertility center works to maximize the chances of a successful IVF cycle by doing extensive pre-cycle testing of the eggs and sperm involved.
Prior to the IVF cycle, we assess a woman’s health, family history and the function of her ovaries. This gives us a good sense of her egg quality. If her egg quality is low, we may suggest using an egg donor for a better chance of success.
We also test sperm before an IVF cycle. We check to see how many sperm are present in an intended father’s seminal fluid. This is his sperm count. We analyze sperm under a microscope to determine whether there is good motility (movement) and morphology (shape). If the sperm count or quality is low, we may recommend a procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to help aid IVF fertilization.
The IVF fertilization steps
By the fertilization stage of IVF, patients at our New Braunfels fertility center have gone through testing, monitoring and at least one round of fertility medication. All this effort has set the stage for fertilization. The steps of IVF fertilization proceed as follows.
- Preparation of eggs and sperm. Laboratory technicians clean and prepare the retrieved eggs and sperm by isolating them from their follicular fluid and semen, respectively. The lab andrologists analyze the sperm one last time to determine whether traditional fertilization or ICSI is appropriate.
- Traditional fertilization. Embryologists place eggs in individual petri dishes and add a drop of the prepared sperm. As would happen in the body, when exposed to an egg, the sperm attempt to penetrate its outer barrier (the zona pellucida) and fertilize it. Once a single sperm has penetrated the zona pellucida, fertilization is complete.
- ICSI fertilization. Rather than merely exposing an egg to sperm, embryologists isolate a single sperm from the prepared sample and use a tiny needle guided by a microscope to inject it directly into the egg. This process bypasses the zona pellucida and results in fertilization.
We are proud to work with the embryology laboratory at Ovation® Fertility in San Antonio. Ovation provides cutting-edge laboratory work that can boost IVF success rates and preserve eggs and embryos with comprehensive safety and security measures.
Regardless of the method, after fertilization, our team identifies healthy embryos based on their continued development and/or preimplantation genetic testing (PGT). Our New Braunfels fertility center will transfer a single healthy embryo to the intended mother’s uterus. The embryology laboratory then freezes and stores the remaining healthy embryos.
To learn more about IVF fertilization or for other questions about fertility treatment options, please contact our office.