In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a procedure where a sperm and an egg are combined outside of a woman's body to make an embryo, which is then placed back into the woman's womb. IVF is a choice for couples who are not able to conceive without assistance. It is a complicated and costly procedure that is often an option of last resort, after other methods fail, according to WebMD.
Multiple steps are required to complete an IVF procedure, from retrieving the eggs from the woman's fallopian tubes to transferring the matured embryos into her uterus. Before the egg retrieval, the woman is given injections that force her body to release more than one egg so multiple eggs can be removed with one procedure. When the eggs are ready to emerge from the fallopian tube, the woman undergoes a procedure to have them removed with a hollow needle, while her partner contributes his sperm. The sperm and eggs are joined together in a laboratory immediately after the retrieval, according to WebMD.
After the embryos have matured for a few days, the couple returns to have the embryos transferred into the woman's uterus via a tube that is inserted through her cervix. The woman is advised to rest for up to six hours before leaving the facility, according to WebMD.