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Family Planning 101: What is IVF?

IVF is one of the most common fertility options for people interested in expanding their family.

We’ve put together a starter guide of explainers and definitions to help you guide your research so you feel confident and informed, whether you’re talking to your partner(s), talking to your doctor, or meeting with a Family Creation Coach.

What is IVF?

IVF is an assisted reproductive technology that involves handling eggs and sperm in a laboratory. In vitro means "in culture," referring to the test tube environment where fertilization occurs. It is often used in infertility cases when other less invasive procedures have failed to result in a successful pregnancy. IVF is successful in approximately half of all cases, depending on the age of the female or male partner and other factors involved. 

The primary purpose of IVF is to allow someone unable to conceive naturally to become pregnant using their eggs and sperm from a partner or a donor. It’s a popular option for people who want to have biological children without involving an egg donor or surrogate.

Common IVF terms

Whether you’re trying to brush up before a doctor’s appointment or you’re doing your due diligence as you investigate all your options, here are some common terms you might hear – so don’t be afraid to bookmark this for later.

ASH (Assisted Hatching)

This is an intervention your doctor might implement to help the IVF process along when earlier attempts have failed. Assisted hatching involves making a tiny hole in the zona pellucida layer on the fourth day of development enables a fertilized embryo to "hatch" from these cells, which is how embryos attach to the uterine walls.

Donor Egg Cycle

The donor egg cycle is a cycle in which the donor (i.e., the person who donates their eggs) takes fertility drugs and has her eggs retrieved to be fertilized with sperm. The embryo is then transferred to the uterus of the gestational carrier.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI)

ICSI is an in vitro fertilization (IVF) that involves injecting healthy sperm directly into an egg to fertilize it. ICSI is used only when one partner has a low sperm count or other sperm abnormalities that make it difficult for him to conceive naturally. It’s also used when there are problems fertilizing eggs during IVF due to male infertility issues such as poor morphology or low sperm count.

Tubal Patency Test

This infertility test, also known as HyCoSy or the Fallopian Tube Patency Test, uses an x-ray examination to see if your fallopian tubes are blocked or otherwise damaged, which could be the root of your fertility problems.

Benefits of IVF

There’s a reason why IVF is a popular family building and fertility option for people interested in carrying a child and building a family. 


When you undergo IVF, you control when to begin treatment. This means that if you need to wait a little while until you have saved up some money or until you feel ready mentally and emotionally, you can do so. It also means that if you want to start treatment immediately, you can do that too.

Improved chances of a healthy baby

IVF's success rate is higher than other fertility treatments like IUI. This is because IVF uses viable eggs and sperm and does not rely on environmental factors like timing or positioning. A doctor can choose the best embryo to implant based on its health and viability, which increases the chances of having a healthy baby from conception onward.

Lower risks

While there may be complications, IVF is an ideal option because it can increase the chances of having a healthy child without a high miscarriage risk.

IVF is considered one of the most successful forms of fertility treatment and is often used when other treatments have failed. Research shows that IVF has an average success rate of more than 50 percent when used as a first treatment. This means that many people who use IVF to conceive will be successful on their first attempt.

One of the main advantages of using IVF is that it allows people who cannot conceive through intercourse to become parents. If the intended parent(s) aren’t able to provide eggs or sperm, they can use donated embryos from another couple or individual, which can increase their chances of success.

How long does the IVF process take?

One full cycle of IVF takes about three weeks. However, this time can vary depending on the patient's response to treatment. Some people may need more than one cycle of IVF to achieve a successful pregnancy.

The length of time it takes to complete an IVF cycle will depend on:

• How many eggs are retrieved during the egg retrieval procedure

•How many embryos and the quality of the embryos that are created after fertilization.

•The cost of the IVF process

The average cost of one IVF cycle is more than $12,000, but the entire process can cost as much as $25,000 or as little as $10,000 – and the costs can vary wildly depending on other considerations like medical care, supplements and prescriptions, and other treatments. Daylight Grow offers financing options and savings plans to help you prepare for these additional costs so you can focus on bringing your newest family member into the world! 

Risks & Benefits

Risks of IVF include:

•Ectopic pregnancies

•Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome 

•Highly invasive procedures

Benefits of IVF include:

•Increased chance of pregnancy for individuals with fertility issues

•Ability to use preimplantation genetic testing to genetically analyze embryos prior to transfer

•Opportunity for LGBTQIA+ families and single individuals to have biological children through surrogacy 

Resources needed for IVF include:

•Fertility clinic

•Sperm, either from a partner or a donor 

•Eggs, either from a partner or a donor 

•A gestational carrier 

•Medications to stimulate egg production and prepare the uterus for implantation

At Daylight Grow, we believe the world needs more queer parents – and we help make that happen. Whether you know you want to start or add to your family through surrogacy or you’re still exploring your options, Daylight Grow is here to help through our family planning concierge, resource center, and community dedicated to supporting queer parents as they navigate the family-building process. Learn more and join today!