Insemination and Fertilization
Some of the most important events in a cycle now occur behind the scenes, in our laboratory. Eggs mature for a few hours in the incubator and sperm are added. We add about 50,000 to 100,000 motile sperm into each droplet of culture media containing each egg. This is called insemination. Insemination is followed several hours later by fertilization, when the sperm enters the egg.
The embryos now begin dividing in the Petri dish, growing to eight-cells by day three and up to 100 cells by day 5-6 (at this stage, embryos are called blastocysts).
There are a number of procedures that can be done in our lab to enable healthy embryo development. The patient's doctor will let them know if a given procedure is recommended.
A safe and simple procedure commonly performed in our lab, assisted hatching helps the embryo to hatch from its shell, which will enable it to implant in the uterus. Learn more about assisted hatching.
In ICSI or Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, for cases of significant male factor infertility, the embryologist identifies the strongest and best swimming sperm and injects them into each egg. Though a large number of sperm are injected, only one will fertilize the egg. Learn more about ICSI.
Advances in embryology have enabled us to diagnose genetic abnormalities early, before embryos are implanted in the uterus. This process, called "Pregenetic Testing" or PGT may be recommended for couples in which one or both partners carry a genetic mutation or where there has been recurrent miscarriage or recurrent IVF implantation failure. In PGT, a few cells are removed from the blastocyst-stage embryo and sent to a PGT laboratory for evaluation. The cell's genetic material is then tested in order to identify any genetic mutation. In this manner, only unaffected embryos will be selected to be transferred back to the uterus of the female partner. Learn more about PGT.
Freezing Sperm or Embryos for future use
The PFC IVF laboratory operates a state of the art freezing program that is available to freeze sperm, eggs and embryos.
Male patients who have had their sperm collected surgically may freeze a sperm sample(s) for a future IVF cycle, and thus eliminate the need for further surgery. Occasionally we will freeze sperm for men who cannot attend on the day of their partners' egg collection procedure, or for men who are anxious about producing a sample.
For single women wishing to preserve their fertility, especially for single cancer patients facing chemotherapy that may harm their eggs, egg freezing (called oocyte vitrification) can be performed. Learn more about egg freezing.
If there are additional embryos of good quality, these may be frozen as well. The freezing process allows for additional IVF cycles at a much lower cost, as the patient will not need to start at the beginning; and with minimal medications. Frozen embryo transfers have allowed many of our patients to achieve more than one pregnancy from a single cycle of ovarian stimulation. Learn more about freezing sperm or embryos.
Ensuring the safety of your embryos
At PFC we are fortunate to have one of the most highly trained embryology teams in the country. We pride ourselves on our honesty, diligence and thoroughness and take very seriously the issue of embryo identification and security. Learn more about how we manage embryos throughout the IVF process.