What is IVF? What to know about the duration of the fertility treatment

An estimated 8 million babies born from IVF worldwide since 1978, according to a report.

In her soon to be released memoirs, the former First Lady Michelle Obama revealed she and former President Barack Obama used in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to become pregnant of their two daughters, Malia, 20, and Sasha, 17.

The 54-year-old turned out that she had a miscarriage prior to conceiving of Malia, an experience she said: “let her physically uncomfortable and craters any optimism we felt.”

“I felt like I was not because I do not know how often miscarriages were because we are not talking about it,” the former first lady said in an interview broadcast on Friday, ABC’s ‘ Good Morning America. “We sit in our own pain, thinking that, one way or another we are broken.”

More than 8 million babies born from IVF worldwide since 1978, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology estimated in July.

Read on to learn more about IVF.

What is it and why can some people opt for IVF?

IVF is a process where a woman’s eggs are extracted and then combined with the sperm in a laboratory dish, according to the American Pregnancy Association. From there, the fertilized egg (or sometimes multiple eggs) are placed in a woman’s uterus.

An IVF-cycle, where “ovulation induction,” “egg retrieval,” “sperm retrieval”, “conception” and finally the transfer of the embryo in the womb, according to the Mayo Clinic it takes approximately two weeks, although it is possible another cycle is needed.


Donated ova, sperm, and embryos are sometimes used with IVF, depending on the individual or couple has.

Women over 40 years are typically offered IVF as a “primary treatment,” the Mayo Clinic says. Patients can opt for IVF if they or their partner has a certain medical condition.

For example, IVF may be an option for women who have fallopian tube damage or blockage, ovulation disorder, endometriosis, or premature ovulation failure, among other conditions, according to the Mayo Clinic. IVF may also be an option for people who have a reduced sperm production or function.

How successful is it?

The process, which the American Pregnancy Association notes it is an “assisted reproductive technology (ART),” is the most effective form of ART, according to the Mayo Clinic. But the success of IVF depends on multiple factors, such as a woman’s age and the cause of the infertility.

Women under the age of 35 who make use of “fresh embryos from non-donor eggs” 21.3 percent chance of having a “full-term, normal birth weight, and singleton live birth per ART cycle,” according to Penn Medicine, which referred to a in 2015 the AMERICAN Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology report.

After the age of 35 years, a woman’s chances continue to decrease.

What are the risks?

According to the Mayo Clinic, IVF increases the risk of multiple births if more than one embryo is implanted in the uterus” and “pregnancy with multiple fetuses have a higher risk of premature labor and low birth weight than pregnancy with a single fetus does.”

IVF may slightly increase the chance to have a baby early, while the chance of a miscarriage increases with a small amount of money, if a woman makes use of a frozen embryo and not a fresh embryo.


Birth defects and ectopic pregnancy when a fertilised egg attaches itself outside the womb, are also risks. The Mayo Clinic states, approximately 2 to 5 percent of women who have IVF have an ectopic pregnancy.

You can find more information about the possible uncertainties here and side effects of IVF here.

What does it cost?

IVF can be costly — usually costing thousands of dollars for each “cycle,” and many couples require more than one attempt.

Penn Medicine estimate of the average cost of one IVF cycle” varies between $10,000 and $ 15,000, but the price is “dependent on the insurance coverage, patient characteristics, and treatment.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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