IVF Overview

In Vitro Fertilization 101 - An IVF Overview

Video: In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

For the more severe forms of infertility, Laurence A. Jacobs, M.D. offers In Vitro Fertilization. By using a multiple step process Dr. Jacobs can determine why a couple has a difficult time getting pregnant. IVF is an effective solution to infertility.

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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was innovated as a remedy for missing, damaged, or blocked fallopian tubes. Today, IVF  has proven to be an effective treatment for a variety of fertility obstacles, including endometriosis, Male Factor Infertility, PCOS, and infertility that is immunologic or unexplained.

However, IVF is not required for the majority of fertility patients. Besides being an expensive treatment, in vitro fertilization requires a substantial time commitment. At our practice, we try to find the least invasive treatment to effectively overcome fertility problems. Approximately 70 to 80 percent of patients who seek medical assistance for infertility undergo conventional medical or surgical treatment and succeed in having a baby. The remaining 20 to 30 percent may benefit from an assisted reproductive technology such as IVF.


In vitro fertilization involves the retrieval of oocytes (eggs) and obtaining sperm, which are combined in a controlled setting to achieve fertilization. Once fertilization has occurred and normal embryonic development has been confirmed, one, two, or three embryos depending on embryo quality are placed back inside the uterus. Any remaining embryos can be cryopreserved for use in future IVF cycles.

Learn about this process in more detail and find out what to expect while undergoing in vitro fertilization by visiting our IVF Procedure page. You can also read Dr. Jacobs' article about the IVF process (PDF).


Although in vitro fertilization is a valuable and generally effective procedure on its own, there are even more advanced procedures that can be performed in conjunction with IVF, such as Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). ICSI involves isolating a single, healthy sperm cell and injecting it directly into the egg. This technique has been especially successful for couples with severe forms of male factor infertility. ICSI is now performed routinely for many couples. PGD allows couples who carry a life-threatening genetic disease to minimize the chances of passing the condition on to their child. Learn more about these techniques by visiting our Micromanipulation/Genetics page.


If you want to be sure that your next child will be the gender you need or desire, no other gender selection method comes close to the success or reliability of IVF with PGS (greater than 99.9%). Using IVF and preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) for gender selection, male and female embryos are identified and only embryos of the desired sex are transferred to the uterus. At our Chicago area IVF clinics, this is the method of sex selection we recommend. Whether doing PGS gender selection for prevention of sex-linked genetic diseases or for 'family balancing', the embryos can also be screened by our genetics team for aneuploidy (abnormal chromosome count). The aneuploidy screening process allows for the detection of various genetic count abnormalities with PGS for gender selection. IVF pregnancy success rates are similar to regular in vitro fertilization success rates and sex selection rates approach 100%. Learn more about family balancing and gender selection by visiting our Micromanipulation/Genetics page.


IVF with egg donation makes it possible for women with premature ovarian failure or otherwise unhealthy eggs to experience the process of pregnancy and childbirth, and raise a child of their own.  Likewise, donor sperm can help when the male partner has a very severe form of infertility or when there is no male partner available. Find out how donated sperm or eggs are used by visiting our Using a Donor page.


In vitro fertilization technology also allows women who, for medical reasons, cannot carry a pregnancy to nevertheless have a biological child with the help of a gestational carrier. Learn more about this process, often referred to as IVF surrogacy, by visiting our Surrogacy page.


Learn more about in vitro fertilization (IVF) by contacting our Chicago, Illinois-area practice.