IVF Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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Have you ever heard of the acronym IVF? This simple, three-letter abbreviation might not seem like a significant word, but behind these three letters is a great deal of innovation and science that improves people’s lives. 

So, today’s word of the day is IVF. After reading this short guide, you’ll have a basic understanding of what IVF means. Now, let’s dive into the world of medicine and take a look at IVF. 

What Is the Definition of IVF?

As we mentioned before, IVF is an acronym for a health care procedure. This specific procedure is called “in vitro fertilization,” and it is an incredibly important procedure that can help people with medical issues have children when they otherwise could not. Here is a short, if incomplete, definition of in vitro fertilization:

  • A medical procedure where mature eggs and sperm are taken from the subjects, fertilized in a lab, and then placed inside the uterus to start a pregnancy

IVF is an incredibly complex procedure, but it is often the only way that a woman or couple is capable of having children of their own. This procedure is meant to help people going through the tribulations of infertility to be able to have kids.

The Process

To begin the IVF cycle, healthy eggs need to be extracted from ovaries. To do this, the doctor needs to stimulate ovulation. Normally, the ovaries only release one egg per menstrual cycle. For the IVF procedure, medications cause the ovaries to release several egg follicles at once so that they can be collected by the doctor. 

It takes two weeks for the eggs to release, and blood tests are done to make sure your body is reacting well to the treatment. These medications can potentially cause symptoms like cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, or ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. 

After the eggs release, doctors use a needle for transvaginal ultrasound aspiration to locate and extract them. 

Before the egg retrieval process, healthy sperm needs to be collected. If sperm is being collected from a partner, this can be done simply through masturbation. Ocasionally, testicular aspiration is needed, where a needle extracts the sperm directly from the testicle. In some cases, donor sperm is also used. 

Once the sperm has been seperated from the semen fluid and the eggs have been extracted, the eggs need to be fertilized. Doctors may incubate the sperm and eggs overnight or directly inject the sperm into the egg through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). 

Once the egg is fertilized and has become a blastocyst, the embryo is transferred to the woman’s uterus. A doctor will use a catheter to inject a fluid filled with one or multiple fertilized eggs into the uterus. 

If the process is successful, the embryo will implant in the uterine wall within six to ten days, and the cycle of IVF is complete. Success can be confirmed with a pregnancy test.

Any embryos that weren’t used can be frozen to use at a later date. The frozen embryos can be used for several years.

Reasons People Choose IVF

This form of fertility treatment has allowed thousands, if not millions, to give birth who previously were unable to do so.. 

Some women are unable to give birth naturally for a number of reasons, including damage to the fallopian tubes prevents eggs from entering the uterus. Endometriosis could also cause troubles with ovulating or embryo implantation. 

In cases where the uterus cannot sustain a pregnancy, a women uses her own eggs but another woman will carry the baby to term. In other cases, donor eggs are given to a woman for her to carry.

Some people may become infertile after medical treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation. Also, some women previously had their fallopian tubes sterilized or removed but later decide they want kids. IVF could be an option in these cases. 

Sometimes, IVF is needed because of the male’s semen. Improper sperm production, sperm count, sperm function, or abnormalities could be a reason why IVF is needed. 

I some cases, women have unexplained infertility. In this instance, IVF can be used for infertility treatment, as well.

Potential Risks

Because IVF is a lengthy process with lots of steps, these pregnancies are at ahigher risk for the following side effects:

  • Low birth weight
  • Early birth
  • Birth defects
  • Ectopic pregnancy

How Effective Is IVF?

IVF has fairly high success rates. Most women have a live birth rate of about 20 to 35%. And if they undergo the recommended three cycles, they have a cumulative chance of 45 to 53%. However, as women age, the rate of success decreases.

Considering that a normal, healthy couple has about a 20% pregnancy rate by natural means each month, those odds are pretty good. 

Where Did IVF Come From?

In vitro fertilization was first invented in the 1970s by fertility specialists Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. This form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) was revolutionary in the obstetrics field. 

Of course, the words that make up this acronym have been around for much longer than that. Let’s break down the more unfamiliar part of the IVF acronym: the words “in vitro.” 

The phrase “in vitro” is a Latin phrase that literally translates to “in glass.” The phrase was obviously used millenia ago when Latin was a spoken language, but it wasn’t until the late 19th century that the phrase resurfaced in the scientific community. 

The term is used in English to denote that something was created in a lab, a test tube, pitri dish, or the like. It’s a way to say that something was created by science, rather than by natural means. 

What Are Some Examples of the Word IVF in a Sentence?

Seeing the word in context can bring more clarity to its meaning and how it is used. So here are some examples of the phrase IVF being used in a sentence. 

My tubes were damaged during my radiation treatment, so John and I are trying to get pregnant using IVF. 

Without the IVF process, I wouldn’t have my beautiful baby girl. 

My friend used IVF, and all three embryos took hold, so she had triplets!

The Word IVF

Now you have a solid understanding of the word IVF and its meaning. Use it confidently in your writing or your conversations. If you need a refresher on IVF, come back to this article for the information you need.  


The importance of 3 full cycles of IVF | National Institute for Health and Care Excellence 

In Vitro Fertilization | The Embryo Project Encyclopedia 

In Vitro Fertilization | Mayo Clinic