IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. The process involves a series of procedures that are used to help with fertility. The process can also be used to help with the conception of a child. IVF is a fairly effective form of assisted reproduction. The procedure uses a person's own eggs and the partner's own sperm. However, it is not without risk. It is time consuming, invasive, and expensive, and can lead to being pregnant with more than one fetus.
An early step in IVF is to stimulate egg production. Medications are used for this step. The next step is to harvest those mature eggs from the female. This is a minor surgical process. Once the eggs are harvested, the male is asked to donate sperm. The doctor will then take the sperm and harvested eggs and use the sperm to fertilize the eggs. If the fertilization is successful, the fertilized eggs should begin undergoing mitotic divisions. At this point, the fertilized eggs are called embryos. The embryos are then transferred to the woman's uterus where a normal pregnancy is hoped for.
A couple might consider IVF if either person has trouble producing viable gametes. It's possible that the male sperm do not function in an optimal manner. They might not swim well. It's also possible that the woman has oviduct damage and the egg does not reach the uterus, or the damage prevents the sperm from reaching the ovulated egg.