In vitro fertilization, or IVF, can help patients dealing with fertility problems to conceive. Ultrasounds play an important role in IVF treatment, as they help facilitate the IVF process by providing an internal view of the reproductive system. This allows treatment to be timed with the body's response to fertility medications, increasing the chances for successful conception. Because of this, ultrasounds are performed throughout the IVF treatment process. In the following overview, we will discuss how ultrasound is used and what to expect with a typical IVF ultrasound schedule. For more information about IVF, please contact Los Angeles, CA Pacific Fertility Center.
Ultrasound and IVF Treatment
Ultrasound is a key component of IVF treatment because it allows fertility doctors to get an accurate view of the reproductive system without performing surgery or another invasive procedure. Ultrasound achieves this through the use of soundwaves that are safely and painlessly transmitted through the tissues. These soundwaves bounce off of the internal structures of the body and are displayed as an image on an ultrasound screen. Ultrasound is used at specific times during IVF treatment to increase the chances of successful implantation.
A baseline transvaginal ultrasound is performed at the beginning of IVF treatment to examine the ovaries. This baseline ultrasound is done around the time of a woman's expected period in order to evaluate the ovaries, measure serum estradiol levels, and check for cysts that may interfere with IVF treatment. If the ultrasound is normal, IVF treatment can begin with ovarian stimulation.
Ovarian Monitoring with Ultrasound
Once ovarian stimulation begins with stimulatory hormonal injections, the ovaries will be closely monitored via ultrasound. These ultrasounds are performed transvaginally and are typically done every one to two days based on follicle growth and estradiol levels in preparation for the next stage of IVF, oocyte retrieval.
Abdominal Ultrasound for Oocyte Retrieval and Embryo Transfer
The next ultrasound performed during IVF treatment is an abdominal ultrasound. This abdominal ultrasound is used for oocyte retrieval, which is the removal of eggs from the ovary. This occurs about 36 hours after the completion of stimulatory injections. The collected eggs will then be fertilized and the next ultrasound, will be scheduled for three to five days later to assist with transferring the embryo or embryos into the uterus.
About two weeks after egg retrieval, a pregnancy test will be performed. After two positive pregnancy tests, the first obstetric ultrasound will be scheduled. The first obstetric ultrasound is typically performed between the sixth and seventh week of pregnancy, which is about four to five weeks after embryo transfer, but may be performed sooner if an ectopic pregnancy or other issue is suspected.
This ultrasound will be performed transvaginally, as this method offers a clearer picture for checking the fetal heartbeat and the yolk and gestational sacs. If the results of this ultrasound show a normal pregnancy, regular prenatal visits and ultrasounds should be scheduled with your obstetrician for the duration of the pregnancy.
Learn More about IVF
For more information about IVF or to discuss other fertility treatments, please contact our team at the Pacific Fertility Center.