Similarity between your IVF treatment and natural conception

Before you embark on the IVF journey, breaking the most common myth around IVF which is that it is artificial and non-natural is important. This is as important a step as it was for you to properly understand the biological process of reproduction on reaching the age of sexual maturity. 

We all remember our first lessons on sex education and how curious we were to know more and more about it. Now, imagine you had learned about sexual intercourse from an improper source and therefore imbibed several misconceptions about the same. What would have happened as a result? Surely, this would have severed limited your own understanding of sexual health and safe sex. The point is that there is no room for fallacies in what is the one of the fundamental aspects of life. Similarly, you must shed any misconceptions you have about IVF before you go for it, starting with the most basic one which is that it is a non-natural mode of conception.

The processes of IVF and normal conception are not opposites but far from it. Yes, the egg is fertilized and allowed to grow into an embryo in a lab before it is transferred to the uterus on Day 3/5/6, depending on the case at hand. But the lab process imitates natural conception as closely as possible. In fact, the lab can be thought of as an outside-the-body uterus. Relying on the human body to be the guide, embryologists have developed procedures that mimic the human body. Everything from the temperature at which embryos are maintained to the nutrients in which they are grown are copied from nature. Most importantly, the baby or babies born out of IVF are also completely normal. They are not the concoction of doctors. They are your flesh and blood. So, by considering to explore IVF as a means to conceive, you are not utterly and helplessly compromising on your innate desire to conceive naturally. You are only deciding to take some help. Moreover, in both processes, your and your partner’s state of mental and physical health, lifestyle, and nutrition remain extremely important. At no stage should you be lulled into thinking that you and your partner are merely patients at a clinic, getting the assistance of technology that is ultimately driven by doctors and scientists. No! This is first and foremost your journey. 

The following is a schematic representation of the stages of the natural stages of fetus development.

The below table will explain the natural process vis-à-vis the steps involved in IVF.

In VivoIn Vitro
Day 0
Day 1 

Day 2Day 3
Day 4 

Day 5
The ovary releases an egg into the ovary.One of the sperms reaches the egg and fertilizes it.

Cells multiply by division to progressively reach the morula stage.
Four-celled, eight-celled, the embryo is in the morula stage. Its journey down the tube continues.
The embryo is in the blastocyst stage and reaches the uterus where it is ready for implantation, that is, it is ready to stick to the wall of the uterus.  
This is the day of egg retrieval.
In conventional IVF, the process is of self-selection, and one sperm fertilizes the egg. Alternatively, in ICSI, a sperm is injected into the egg.
Embryo development takes place in the lab.

The embryo is transferred to the uterus as it has reached a stage where it is ready to stick and be implanted.

Comparison of Embryo development

For pregnancy to occur the embryo has to be in the blastocyst stage and in the uterus. Embryos put back into the uterus at earlier stages float in the uterus until they reach the blastocyst stage and stick. In the lab, all out efforts are made to mimic nature. All stages that the fertilized egg goes through in the tubes and uterus in its journey to becoming an embryo are followed in the lab.

It is important for not only couples seeking IVF, but also embryologists to understand this “mimic”. This helps in offering a wider perspective about why certain things are done in a particular way. One of the other important thing this tells us is that in IVF “Time is of the essence”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

My clinician suggested that I start my IVF injections from second day of my menstrual cycle, but I am traveling on that day. Can I start my IVF injections from the fifth day ?

Everything in your IVF treatment is synced with your menstrual cycle. In a normal conception the recruitment of the follicles begins from Day 2 of your menstrual cycle, same is done during your treatment. The hormonal injections are given from second day to begin the recruitment.

How is sperm capacitation achieved in the laboratory ?

Processing the sperm and keeping it for two hours before injection or insemination assists in capacitating the sperm in the laboratory.

Rishina Bansal
Rishina Bansal Embryologist and Authors of “Making Babies the IVF way” 10+ years’ experience in the IVF industry revolving around core embryology skills like gamete handling, Embryo grading and embryo biopsy with the ability to train and manage Lab Personnel to ensure smooth functioning of an IVF Laboratory. She holds a double Master’s degree in Embryology (IVI, Spain) and Biotechnology (University of Houston, USA) She has worked in eminent IVF Chains like Pulse India, Bourn Hall Clinic, Nova IVI fertility. Her last few roles have been as a Manager wherein she has shown her troubleshooting skills to achieve high clinical Pregnancy rates using standardized embryology practice across multiple laboratories. She has been invited as faculty and presented papers in various national and International conferences. She has authored and co-authored various chapters in Scientific publications.

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