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In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most common type of assisted reproduction. Assisted reproduction is the use of medical treatments to help couples who are not able to get pregnant on their own achieve a pregnancy.

In IVF, a woman is treated with hormones to cause her eggs to mature. The eggs are then retrieved during a surgical procedure, such as an ultrasound-guided needle aspiration or laparoscopy. The eggs are then combined with a man’s sperm outside of the woman’s body in a laboratory dish. There, the eggs fertilize. The resulting embryos grow in the laboratory for a few days. The embryos are then transferred into the woman’s uterus. Embryos implant in the uterus, resulting in a pregnancy.

Fertilization Fallopian Tubes Conception

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IVF can be used to treat a variety of types of infertility. It can increase a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. The success rate varies according to maternal age, fresh or frozen embryos, the quality of the sperm, and whether the patient’s own eggs or donor eggs are used. In the US, the live birth rate per IVF cycle using fresh nondonor eggs is around 40% in women aged 35 and younger. This rate decreases with age.

While it can be successful, IVF is expensive. The total cost for one IVF cycle can range from $12,000 to $17,000. This figure will vary greatly depending on what medications are needed and how many cycles are completed. Some states have laws that require insurance companies to cover infertility services, such as IVF. To find out whether your state has these laws, you can call your state’s Insurance Commissioner’s office.


Assisted reproductive technology (ART). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated November 9, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.

In vitro fertilization: IVF. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.

Infertility in men. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated February 26, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.

Infertility in women. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.

IVF/ART. National Infertility Association website. Available at: Accessed January 30, 2017.

Last reviewed January 2017 by Andrea Chisholm, MD  Last Updated: 12/20/2014

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