The IVF timeline start to finish can be anywhere from four to six weeks. For many women, the first three weeks of the cycle are spent taking birth control pills to regulate her hormones and synchronize her period so the drugs she’ll be taking can be timed properly. After her protocol and treatment plan is determined, the medical professionals at her IVF center will provide a detailed calendar and drug sheet for her to follow. The following is a timeline for a conventional IVF cycle.
Suppression and Developing Eggs
- The first part of the IVF process timeline starts on the day the woman starts her period. During the first phase of the IVF cycle timeline, the woman takes birth control pills to regulate hormones and synchronize the timing of the other drugs.
- On day 21 of her menstrual cycle she also starts taking Lupron, the stimulation medication, for 10 days. Lupron acts on the part of your brain (pituitary gland) that stimulates the ovary but also suppress the ovary from ovulating. This way, the ovaries ripen multiple follicles, instead of the single one during the natural cycle.
- After 10 days of Lupron, a suppression check is done to make sure ovulation has been suppressed.
- At this point, the woman starts to take ovary stimulation medication. The most common injectable meds are Follistim, Menopur, Gonal-F, Bravelle, and Repronex. During this part of the IVF procedure timeline, the woman will still be taking Lupron but the dose will be continually lowered. The stimulation period last 8-12 days.
- During the stimulation period the woman will undergo frequent ultrasound and blood tests. These tests are to determine when the biggest follicles get to 18-22 millimeters in diameter. This is the ideal size for the follicles, when they get to this size they are mature and ready to be harvested.
Ready for the Egg Retrieval
Exactly 36 hours before the planned egg retrieval the woman receives an injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to stimulate the eggs’ release from the walls of the follicles. This is called the trigger shot and the timing on this shot is critical. The eggs will release 40 hours after the shot is given, so they need to be harvested before they leave the ovary. If the shot is given too early the eggs could already be in the fallopian tube where they would be impossible to harvest.
The egg retrieval part of the IVF procedure timeline is a minor outpatient surgical procedure that usually takes around 30 minutes. Because the timing of the procedure is so critical, this procedure is scheduled before the HCG shot so it can be synchronized properly. If the sperm being used is from the woman’s partner, he usually donates