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Infertility Treatment : In Vitro Fertilization Protocol Part 2

Explaining the second half of the in vitro fertilization protocol, from making the baby in the lab to transferring the embryo and confirming the pregnancy. Who knew that making babies the new fashioned way would be like this?

In Vitro Fertilization Protocol Part 2

(See Part 1 Here)

aka Making Babies the New Fashioned Way

Explaining Infertility Treatments: In vitro fertilization protocol part 2, covering egg retrieval, fertilization, embryo transfer, and hormonal support. @suzlyfe


*I want to be very clear that I am giving you an overview of the process from the BEST CASE SCENARIO mindset. I will go over potential risks and issues in a separate post!!!

Alright, so last we chatted, the eggs had been hoovered and the guy’s boys have been collected. The eggless lady gets carted home about an hour or so after my procedure (in total, expect to be at the hospital for about 2 hours). The procedure is done under twilight sleep anethesia, so if you have ever had a colonoscopy, you can expect the same protocol. You might feel a little groggy as you wake up, but otherwise, it should be pretty smooth.

Per my doctors, they want me to maintain a low profile the rest of the day, and because the ovaries are still swollen, exercise is still a no-go.

Part 4: In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Development

Once the docs have the little behbehs to be in hand, it is time to make babies by adding water! The active sperm is separated, and the sperm and eggs are cultured together overnight. There is another method of fertilizing the eggs called ICSI (intracytoplssmic spem injection), when a single sperm is injected directly into the egg. This is usually used when there might be male factor infertility.

Once the eggs have been fertilized, they are placed into an incubator for 3-5 days, during which time embryos will hopefully develop. It is generally accepted that not all eggs wil successfully develop into viable embryos. During the 3-5 days, the embryos/fertilized eggs are closely monitored, and then the embryos with the greatest chance of success and survival are selected by the doctor for embryo transfer.

Part 5: Embryo Transfer

The number of embryos that are implanted ranges based on the mother’s age, the favorability of their physical condition, and the incubation period of the embryos. In my case, as discussed, they will only be implanting one embryo at a time regardless of the incubation period as we do not want to risk multiples (as much as we can).

Edited to add: Even though it is typical at my practice to transfer 2 embryos for a day 3 transfer at my age and conditions, we opted to transfer 1 to protect myself and the baby. The other two embryos continue to incubate in the lab, but there is only a 30% chance that they will make it to day 5 for freezing, another reason to transfer my embryos day 3.

For the transfer, the embryos are placed in the uterus via a procedure that is similar to a Pap smear–the woman is completely conscious, and all she might experience is some mild cramping! After the procedure, the woman lays low and can be ordered to bed rest for the rest of the day and until the first pregnancy blood test to encourage implantation (see below for explanation).

So, congratulations, you (may) have just gotten pregnant! Isn’t it ironic when getting pregnant requires you to not have sex for 2 weeks before conception and 2 weeks after?

Part 7: Hormonal Support of Uterine Lining

For successful implantation of an embryo and development of a fetus, the uterus must have adaquate lining, which is dependent on the woman’s levels of progesterone and estradiol. Consequently, to support the uterine lining, progesterone will given, and often estradiol will also be prescribed, particularly in cases such as mine (with chronically low hormones across the board). 

Historically, progesterone has been administered via shots in the bum (these are the shots that HURT), but there are now a few other options, including vaginal gels and suppositories. Estradiol can be given orally, vaginally, trans-dermal patch, or intramuscular injection. Estradiol and progesterone are usually given from a period of two to 10 weeks.

Part 8: Confirmation of Pregnancy

Pregnancy will be confirmed or not approximately a week and a half after transfer via a blood test called a beta hCG (also known as the “pregnancy hormone,” human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is a hormone produced by the placenta after implantation). It is recommended that women do NOT do a urine pregnancy test because of the number of false negatives!

Exercise and sex are still a no until after this test, and sometimes even until after the first ultrasound a few weeks after. Talk to your doctor about exactly what they want you to do or not do! Edited to add: This is to keep the body core temperature relatively low in order to encourage blood to focus on the uterus rather than being diverted to the muscles. Additionally, if you have just gone through egg retrieval, your ovaries will still be swollen and prone to tortion.

So THAT'S how IVF works! Glad Suz spelled it out for me #infertility #IVF Click To Tweet

This second half of the IVF protocol is a bit more out of your hands. You keep up with your hormone support, and you do what your docs tell you, but otherwise, it is up to them to create the babies and get them in there properly.


When we were having our registration appointment, the psychologist said something that really resonated with me: It is not your fault if you don’t maintain the pregnancy. Rather, it means that they (the medical team) messed up by selecting the wrong embryo or not giving you sufficient hormonal support. In a situation as emotional and pressure-filled as IVF, hearing these words really helped me, especially with my anxiety, which is induced by feelings of making mistakes.

I will have a follow up post about the risks and side effects of IVF!

Still making sense? What else are you curious about?

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Have you read these gems?


  • Reply Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious

    Thinking of you!
    Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious recently posted…10 Easy Low Calorie Dinner RecipesMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 5:07 am
  • Reply Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete

    Furiously praying for you guys…LIKE, CRAZY.
    Tiffany @ The Chi-Athlete recently posted…A New DiagnosisMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 5:51 am
  • Reply Lisa @ Mile by Mile

    I hope things are still going well! What a crazy process.
    Lisa @ Mile by Mile recently posted…Cold Weather Gear for Winter RunningMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 5:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Still hanging in there!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm
  • Reply Heather @Lunging Through Life

    Love that you are sharing this and praying for you guys!!
    Heather @Lunging Through Life recently posted…Baby #2 Wish List, Purchases, and Nursery InspirationMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 5:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, lady! I am happy to do it.

      January 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm
  • Reply Jamie

    I gave myself the progesterone shots IN MY THIGH. It’s trippy to see that needle sticking out of your leg like a missile. Praying for you today and yesterday and tomorrow (but you already know that).
    Jamie recently posted…Ugly Cake TearsMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 6:15 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Yeah, I’ve given myself shots in my thigh before (including the anti-ovulation shot) and it is always a bit trippy. Thank you love xoxo

      January 17, 2017 at 7:15 pm
  • Reply Jennifer @ Fit Nana

    Wow. That’s all pretty intense stuff, right there. I can only imagine the actual strength and fortitude it takes to go through something like that. AND you’re writing and sharing about it! You are amazing! I’ve got my fingers crossed hard that everything goes smoothly for you. 🙂

    January 17, 2017 at 6:25 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      The writing about it is actually really therapeutic and helpful! Thank you, Jennifer!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:16 pm
  • Reply Emily @ My Healthyish Life

    This was a great (and simple) read. Thinking about you guys and praying that everything goes as smoothly as possible.
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life recently posted…When College Football Comes to TownMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 6:36 am
  • Reply Ellie

    I wish I was a man hahahaha
    Ellie recently posted…Sleep Like an AthleteMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 6:55 am
    • Reply Cora

      You just keep replaying those psychologists’ words over and over in your head, my dear. She is right. That being said holy man what a great deal of work and pressure for the medical team! It’s all amazing. To think that making a pregnancy in this way is even possible. But those like you are sure putting your whole heart, soul and vulnerability out there. Again I say… you are so, so brave.
      “….and then the embryos with the greatest chance of success and survival are selected by the doctor for embryo transfer.” Hm. Reminds me of high school sports teams. I see a new pixar movie in the works. The little embryo that didn’t stop believing…. I think he’d look a little like “sad” from “Inside Out.”
      Cora recently posted…Week In Review: Gracious and HumbleMy Profile

      January 17, 2017 at 7:32 am
      • Reply suzlyfe

        He would still get saved. And then he could go to someone for science purposes!! But yeah, I know what you mean–it makes you think about its little potential a bit differently.

        January 17, 2017 at 7:15 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      My husband is like, this is intense…

      January 17, 2017 at 7:14 pm
  • Reply Sarah @ BucketListTummy

    This is so eye opening for a process I know little about. You are definitely a warrior and keeping my fingers crossed!
    Sarah @ BucketListTummy recently posted…How to Stock Your Pantry For the New YearMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 7:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Sarah!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:13 pm
  • Reply Laura @ This Runner's Recipes

    Praying that it goes well! The process sounds complicated and stressful but it will all be worth it!
    Estradiol is one of the medications I take for PCOS/endometriosis. So far it’s worked in managing those so I hope it works for you!
    Laura @ This Runner’s Recipes recently posted…How to Survive and Enjoy Treadmill Long Runs in WinterMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 8:07 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you! I wonder if they will put me on it. Right now they just have me on straight progesterone.

      January 17, 2017 at 7:13 pm
  • Reply Suzy

    I read every word. I am learning so much about this! Now I feel like I can participate in conversations with people who have gone or may go through this. Thanks Susie! I’ve got every hope in the world for you guys that this is it!
    Suzy recently posted…Week in Review: Poo FreezeMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 8:53 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      You are going to be the most supportive friend ever to someone going through this!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm
  • Reply Rae

    I had absolutely no idea this process was so involved. And shots! Why does it always have to be shots? Still sending lots of good vibes at you.
    Rae recently posted…(Long) Weekend Update – Rehearsal, CrossFit, and Bonus DayMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 8:56 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you lovely. I’m glad that I don’t have to do the shots!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:12 pm
  • Reply Danielle @ The T-Rex Runner

    I don’t know why, but I envisioned the transplantation process to be WAY more high-tech. I don’t know what, exactly, but definitely not like a pap smear. That’s so interesting! Fingers crossed for you guys!!

    January 17, 2017 at 9:40 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Literally, they use a speculum and stick it in. LOL

      January 17, 2017 at 7:11 pm
  • Reply Allie

    This is seriously fascinating stuff!! I hope everything goes as smoothly as possible for you and I love that you heard exactly what you needed to, at exactly the right time.
    Come on BABIES!!!..or BABY!!! 🙂
    Allie recently posted…A Workout, Something to Watch and A Win for the WeekendMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 9:58 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      It seems so easy when you write it down, so it should be that simple in practice, right? Like endurance training?

      January 17, 2017 at 7:11 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    Working in a hospital I am pretty well versed in this process, although didn’t know you had to abstain from intercourse although it totally makes sense.
    I had to take progesterone suppositories the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy with my oldest daughter because of my histories of miscarriages in the first trimester. Seems I can get pregnant easily, just can’t seem to carry very well. The suppositories and bed rest did the trick! Praying lots of beautiful behbehs for you!!! And your unofficial checklist made me almost spit my coffee all over my keyboard, LOL!
    Michelle recently posted…The final countdown My Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 10:04 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Michelle. And I know, HOW FUNNY is that?

      January 17, 2017 at 7:10 pm
  • Reply Maggie Wolff

    Wow, medical science is amazing. This is all so very fascinating. GOOD LUCK!!!!

    January 17, 2017 at 10:45 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I know, it really is insane beyond belief. So simple, but so complicated! Thank yoU!!!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:10 pm
  • Reply Nicole @ Fitful Focus

    I’m sending all the baby vibes to you and Alex! Babies, babies, babies!!!!!! GAHHH fingers and toes and everything crossed! Babies!
    Nicole @ Fitful Focus recently posted…17 Delicious Recipes Using FigsMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 11:47 am
  • Reply Sarah @ Sweet Miles

    I’m so glad you are sharing your journey so openly and candidly! I think opening yourself up for prayers and support are key! Positive vibes all the way!!! You got this! Can’t wait keep hearing GOOD things!
    Sarah @ Sweet Miles recently posted…8 Totally Random Things We’re Both Loving Lately (And Might Be Obsessed With)My Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I hope I will have many more GOOD things to report!! Thank you so much, Sarah. And having all the support helps me so much.

      January 17, 2017 at 7:08 pm
  • Reply Heather@hungryforbalance

    You have done such a great job of explaining this suckey process for those who are fortunate enough to never have to know. Thoughts, prayers, and love to you guys!!
    Heather@hungryforbalance recently posted…Friday Favorites #45My Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Heather. Thank you so much!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:07 pm
  • Reply Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar

    Oh my, this sounds exhausting and complicated–but also fascinating. Thanks for the information. Wishing you all the best of luck!
    Also, that checklist is hilarious and sounds pretty accurate, too. Although, honestly, isn’t that how procreation kind of goes in general, with men doing about 5% of the work?
    Joyce @ The Hungry Caterpillar recently posted…Week in Review: Goodbyes, Cleaning, & StrawberriesMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 2:21 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Haha I hear you there!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:07 pm
  • Reply Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner

    I really like what you said in the last paragraph and fingers crossed for you
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…Raw Pad Thai Salad With Kelp Noodles & GiveawayMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 2:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I can’t take credit for it, but I hope it helps someone!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm
  • Reply Heather @ Polyglot Jot

    I love how your therapist put that–what a beautiful way to phrase it! Keep saying that to yourself over and over. I love that male checklist–haha!
    Heather @ Polyglot Jot recently posted…Currently: January 2017My Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 5:02 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      The fertility psychologist had a lot of great things to say, but that one just stuck with me. And it is something that I will have to remember tomorrow!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:06 pm
  • Reply Evangeline

    Good golly you are one strong lady. Sending lots of love your way.

    January 17, 2017 at 6:25 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      I wish I could take that credit. But we find strength when we need it. Thank you!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:04 pm
  • Reply Anna @ Piper's Run

    Thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way.
    Anna @ Piper’s Run recently posted…Weekly Wrap UpMy Profile

    January 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Anna!

      January 17, 2017 at 7:20 pm
  • Reply Arlinda

    I wish I could give you a hug. You have my support ❤️

    January 17, 2017 at 9:29 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much, Arlinda!

      January 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm
  • Reply jill conyers

    Sending you positive vibes and prayers friend. xoxo
    jill conyers recently posted…6 Tips for Building a Home Gym On a BudgetMy Profile

    January 18, 2017 at 2:55 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much, Jill!

      January 18, 2017 at 1:55 pm
  • Reply kat

    Why do dudes always get off so easy? [kidding – sort of]
    Thinking of you girl!
    kat recently posted…Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake with Fudge FrostingMy Profile

    January 18, 2017 at 7:41 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      But seriously…

      January 18, 2017 at 1:55 pm
  • Reply lindsay Cotter

    thank you, as always, for sharing this. I know I will have to go through it later. My mom did too. And the mental shift is probably the hardest. Your psychologist is so spot on, it’s not your fault. And I truly think God has the perfect timing.

    January 18, 2017 at 7:52 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      The mental side of this is so critical–just like with the marathon.

      January 18, 2017 at 1:54 pm
  • Reply GiGi Eats

    Well, thank you for this run down. While I definitely DO NOT want kids (right now, or ever?)… This might be the approach I take if it comes to a point where I actually want them. So this guidance is very much appreciated 🙂
    GiGi Eats recently posted…A Souped-Up ComparisonMy Profile

    January 18, 2017 at 11:08 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Well, whatever you decide, now you have some idea!

      January 18, 2017 at 1:51 pm
  • Reply Lisa @ RunWiki

    You have been on mind and in my heart. Wrapping my arms around and praying for you. xoxo
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted…DIY Upcycled Nuun Hydration Tube ContainersMy Profile

    January 18, 2017 at 3:52 pm
  • Reply San

    Sounds “easy” enough, right? Sigh.

    ALL fingers and toes are crossed, my dear.
    San recently posted…January Link LoveMy Profile

    January 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, love!

      January 18, 2017 at 7:28 pm
  • Reply Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs

    I have a friend who went through IVF, starting about 12 or 13 years ago. I assume the procedures are similar, but more efficient now. It took a few tries (and remember that psychologist’s words!), but she finally had a beautiful baby boy who is now about 11 years old! And a daughter who is 8. I’m sending all the good vibes and thoughts!
    Debbie @ Coach Debbie Runs recently posted…The Top 16 Running Tips for BeginnersMy Profile

    January 18, 2017 at 9:45 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you, Debbie. We are hoping for the best, but we are very realistic as to what is likely.

      January 19, 2017 at 1:24 pm
  • Reply Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    I can’t wait to hear all about this!!! We should text… I have stories!

    I found out why I was in so much pain when they took my eggs. I was hyper-stimulated. Who knew that was a thing?!
    Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table recently posted…Turkey-Themed Eats [WIAW]My Profile

    January 19, 2017 at 1:22 am
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Oooof. My friend Sara had the same issue. She got a TON of eggs! Text me!

      January 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm
  • Reply Kristy from Southern In Law

    praying for you, sweet friend! I am SO glad you’re putting this all out there as there’s so much about IVF I have no clue about – and I have a few friends on their own IVF journeys at the moment so I’m glad I can learn more to love them better!
    Kristy from Southern In Law recently posted…Recent Things: Public Service Announcements, Discoveries and AnticsMy Profile

    January 19, 2017 at 2:49 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      My goal is for everyone to be better informed so that we can all support one another in the unfortunate case that someone we know (or we) must go through this!

      January 20, 2017 at 2:16 pm
  • Reply Janelle @ Run With No Regrets

    Thanks for sharing this information and your experience. I’ve been thinking of you!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Tunes Tuesday: Pump Up Hip-Hop MusicMy Profile

    January 19, 2017 at 3:28 pm
    • Reply suzlyfe

      Thank you so much, Janelle–that means so much to me!

      January 20, 2017 at 2:15 pm

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