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18 Answers To Every In Vitro Fertilization Question You've Ever Had

"How much does it *really* cost per round?"

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We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us questions they had about IVF that they were too scared to ask.

Then we spoke to Eric J. Forman, M.D., HCLD, Medical and Laboratory Director at Columbia University Fertility Center to get his expert responses on these questions.

And here's what he had to say:

1. First of all, what is IVF? —madbrewer97

"IVF is in vitro fertilization — the most advanced form of fertility treatment where embryos are fertilized outside the body by combining eggs and sperm in a laboratory. Embryos grow inside incubators designed to closely mimic the environment inside a woman's fallopian tubes in the uterus. After growing in vitro, the best embryo can be selected to transfer back to the uterus with a high chance of pregnancy."
Crystal Ro / BuzzFeed

"IVF is in vitro fertilization — the most advanced form of fertility treatment where embryos are fertilized outside the body by combining eggs and sperm in a laboratory. Embryos grow inside incubators designed to closely mimic the environment inside a woman's fallopian tubes in the uterus. After growing in vitro, the best embryo can be selected to transfer back to the uterus with a high chance of pregnancy."

2. Looking at all of the options is overwhelming, how do you choose the best doctor? —hennypennystegosaurus

NBC

"It is important to go to a doctor who is experienced and takes a comprehensive yet individualized approach to the fertility evaluation, rather than a 'one-size-fits-all' approach. Ultimately, it can be an intense relationship so it should be a good personality fit."

3. Everyone will tell me what IVF is like but no one will tell me what the other tests are like — how many do you need before you can start IVF? —loohoo222

"The testing before IVF is very straightforward and typically these tests are covered by medical insurance, even if IVF is not covered. The testing involves assessing the patient's ovarian reserve, measuring blood markers of the ovarian reserve such as anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and FSH levels. Analysis of the uterine cavity and semen are performed, too. Finally, there are some routine pre-pregnancy blood tests to screen for infectious diseases, hormone abnormalities, and genetic risk."
Okrasyuk / Getty Images

"The testing before IVF is very straightforward and typically these tests are covered by medical insurance, even if IVF is not covered. The testing involves assessing the patient's ovarian reserve, measuring blood markers of the ovarian reserve such as anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) and FSH levels. Analysis of the uterine cavity and semen are performed, too. Finally, there are some routine pre-pregnancy blood tests to screen for infectious diseases, hormone abnormalities, and genetic risk."

4. Do you have to try artificial insemination before IVF? —alyalyo

"No, you don't necessarily have to try artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination before IVF."
Blackjack3d / Getty Images

"No, you don't necessarily have to try artificial insemination or intrauterine insemination before IVF."

5. Can you use a sperm donor with IVF? —alyalyo

NBC / Via hulu.tumblr.com

"Yes, absolutely. Sperm from a donor can be used to fertilize eggs in IVF."

6. How much does it *really* cost per round? — lindseyb42cc36243

ABC / Via giphy.com

"Roughly $10,000–$15,000 for the treatment and another $2,000–$5,000 for the medications. Preimplantation genetic testing to make sure the embryo transferred is genetically/chromosomally normal and freezing extra embryos can add to the cost."

7. Why is there such a huge difference in price between IVF in the US vs. other countries? —hennypennystegosaurus

"Some countries subsidize or completely cover the cost of IVF. The cost of medications required for IVF can vary dramatically in different countries. Finally, the technology available in the US and the technical skills and training of embryologists may be higher in the US, contributing to higher costs."
Juanmonino / Getty Images

"Some countries subsidize or completely cover the cost of IVF. The cost of medications required for IVF can vary dramatically in different countries. Finally, the technology available in the US and the technical skills and training of embryologists may be higher in the US, contributing to higher costs."

8. Does insurance cover IVF? If so, how many cycles will they help cover? —alyalyo

NBC / Via giphy.com

"It depends. Some insurances do cover IVF. Some states have 'mandates' that require certain insurers to cover fertility treatment, even including IVF if indicated. The number of cycles varies — for example, Hawaii's mandate covers 1 IVF cycle while New Jersey's covers 4 cycles. Some insurers allow a few attempts while others provide an annual or lifetime maximum amount of money that can be used toward IVF."

9. On a scale of “I stepped on a Lego” to a “public flogging,” how painful is the process? —ashleyisworking

"The medications are mostly injected yourself, under the skin, and are not painful. As the follicles grow the ovaries enlarge and can become uncomfortable and cause mild bloating. The procedure to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries is done under sedation anesthesia so it is not painful." (To find out more about what it feels like to inject yourself with medication, check out this information from the Southern California Reproductive Center.)
sunbolts / Via reddit.com

"The medications are mostly injected yourself, under the skin, and are not painful. As the follicles grow the ovaries enlarge and can become uncomfortable and cause mild bloating. The procedure to retrieve the eggs from the ovaries is done under sedation anesthesia so it is not painful."

(To find out more about what it feels like to inject yourself with medication, check out this information from the Southern California Reproductive Center.)

10. How many embryos do people usually have implanted per cycle? — hilarym46492380b

"The number of embryos transferred has been decreasing significantly over the past few years. The most common number transferred is now one or two depending on the quality and stage of the embryos, the patient's prior IVF history, and whether the embryo was genetically tested. When preimplantation genetic testing has been performed, it is strongly recommended to transfer only one embryo." (Multiple pregnancy gestations can be dangerous for mother and babies.)
Rost-9d / Getty Images

"The number of embryos transferred has been decreasing significantly over the past few years. The most common number transferred is now one or two depending on the quality and stage of the embryos, the patient's prior IVF history, and whether the embryo was genetically tested. When preimplantation genetic testing has been performed, it is strongly recommended to transfer only one embryo." (Multiple pregnancy gestations can be dangerous for mother and babies.)

11. How's IVF different for women with endometriosis, if at all? —theKatherine

"The basic principle is the same. Some women with endometriosis have endometrioma cysts in the ovary and care must be take to avoid these when a needle is used to aspirate the eggs from the ovarian follicles."
Nataliaderiabina / Getty Images

"The basic principle is the same. Some women with endometriosis have endometrioma cysts in the ovary and care must be take to avoid these when a needle is used to aspirate the eggs from the ovarian follicles."

12. How long do you need to wait between cycles? — hilarym46492380b

Disney

"There is no absolute requirement to wait between cycles if multiple cycles are required; they sometimes can be done 'back to back.'"

13. How does IVF affect anxiety or depression? If it does effect it, what is the best way to practice self-care while going through the IVF process? —sophiam455e4efcc

"There is not a definite link between IVF and anxiety and depression. However, these conditions may be more prevalent in the IVF population given the stress induced by infertility. Furthermore, if IVF is not successful, these symptoms can be exacerbated."
Haejin Park / BuzzFeed

"There is not a definite link between IVF and anxiety and depression. However, these conditions may be more prevalent in the IVF population given the stress induced by infertility. Furthermore, if IVF is not successful, these symptoms can be exacerbated."

14. Can you do IVF after you're in menopause? How does that work? —theKatherine

Bravo / Via beamlyus.tumblr.com

"New eggs cannot be retrieved in IVF after menopause. However, if a person has previously frozen eggs or embryos these can be used to attempt pregnancy with IVF even after menopause. People can also try this using an egg donor. The uterine lining (endometrium) can be stimulated to thicken and get ready for pregnancy by providing estrogen and then progesterone for a specific amount of time prior to placing an embryo inside the uterus."

15. Is there any truth to the rumor that there is a higher instance of breast cancer in women who have done IVF as opposed to those that haven’t? —Mwkm2000

"This has not been clearly established. What is known is that women who eventually have a child and those who breastfeed significantly lower their lifetime risk of breast cancer. Women with delayed pregnancy and infertility may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, but this is not likely to be related to the IVF treatment itself."
Charlotte Gomez / Augusta Falletta / BuzzFeed

"This has not been clearly established. What is known is that women who eventually have a child and those who breastfeed significantly lower their lifetime risk of breast cancer. Women with delayed pregnancy and infertility may have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer, but this is not likely to be related to the IVF treatment itself."

16. Are IVF children/adults more prone to some diseases? —Mwkm2000

ABC

"There has been some concern that children born after IVF may be at higher risk of very rare genetic conditions called 'imprinting disorders.' But these are still extremely rare among IVF babies, just maybe slightly more common. Also, IVF babies may be at a higher risk of being small and preterm; however, much of that may be attributable to 'fresh' embryo transfers as outcomes from 'frozen' embryo transfers appear more favorable."

17. Due to my stage three ovarian cancer I had to have both of my ovaries taken out when I was 16 (in 2014). I went through hormone treatment and was luckily able to harvest eight eggs before losing my last ovary but did not have them fertilized. What is the likelihood I’ll be able to get pregnant once or hopefully twice when the time comes? (I still have my uterus.) —amberb4cefa5cb5

"There is not much data on the outcome of previously frozen eggs from teenage girls, however the outcomes from frozen donor eggs from women in their 20s has been excellent. One estimate, based on experience with previously frozen eggs from women in their early 20s, would suggest there is approximately a 60% chance of having one baby and 20% of having two babies. Also, not all eggs survive the freezing process, so you might lose some when thawing them out. If the eggs are not successful, as described previously, the uterus could still implant and carry a pregnancy that is created by using a donated egg (either anonymous or known)."
Midosemsem / Getty Images

"There is not much data on the outcome of previously frozen eggs from teenage girls, however the outcomes from frozen donor eggs from women in their 20s has been excellent. One estimate, based on experience with previously frozen eggs from women in their early 20s, would suggest there is approximately a 60% chance of having one baby and 20% of having two babies. Also, not all eggs survive the freezing process, so you might lose some when thawing them out. If the eggs are not successful, as described previously, the uterus could still implant and carry a pregnancy that is created by using a donated egg (either anonymous or known)."

18. What resources are available for patients trying to find the right place to go for treatment? —hennypennystegosaurus

"FertilityIQ is a validated website where patients can rate their fertility doctors. The CDC compiles data on fertility clinics, but it is challenging to compare clinics and labs due to the different types of patients each may treat."
fertilityiq.com

"FertilityIQ is a validated website where patients can rate their fertility doctors. The CDC compiles data on fertility clinics, but it is challenging to compare clinics and labs due to the different types of patients each may treat."

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