Parenthood has got to be the best experience in life. But biologically not all can experience this joy naturally. Science has over time made immense technological developments in the field of biology, exploring every possible cell in the human body and their functioning. The lack of ability to produce offsprings naturally has led science to think about accessible methods to combat this issue.
Earlier, married couples who underwent the stress of not being able to reproduce can now opt for the IVF technique. IVF means In-vitro-Fertilization which is a common treatment for infertility. In the natural way of fertilization, the sperm reaches the eggs or the ovum and fertilizes it. In IVF this fertilization is carried out in highly controlled lab conditions. The doctor who performs this first takes the eggs from the ovaries of the mother by the use of needles and fertilizes those eggs with sperm from the father/donor. Once fertilization occurs, the eggs develop into embryos. The embryos thus developed are re-implanted by the specialist into the uterus after five to six days.
The first successful birth through IVF technique happened in England in 1978. When the technology was first introduced, IVF was only recommended to women with blocked fallopian tubes. Since then the success rate of IVF has improved. IVF is now used for heterosexual and same-sex couples experiencing infertility and even single women pursuing parenthood. Yes, we have come a long way.
The key to making the right choice that can majorly affect your life is gaining as much knowledge as possible. Here, I’ve got you covered. IVF majorly follows certain steps to fertilize the eggs from the woman’s body in laboratory conditions:
– First, the eggs are retrieved from the follicles of the ovaries through a minor surgical procedure by the specialist.
– The eggs which are collected are placed together with the sperm and kept in an environmentally controlled chamber.
– The sperm fertilizes the egg and this leads to the development of the embryo.
– The IVF technique to be successful uses something called as the ‘Assisted Hatching’, where a laser or chemical solution is used on the embryo to increase the probability of it getting implanted in the lining of the uterus.
In the IVF technique sometimes an embryo is frozen at a very low temperature so that it can be used in the future. The embryo is transferred into the woman’s body depending on the diagnosis and the age of the woman.
Despite being a heavily researched area of medical inquiry, IVF does come with its own set of risks that must be thoroughly researched before making such a decision.
One of the overriding concerns is that IVF increases the risk of multiple births if more than one embryo gets implanted in the uterus. A pregnancy with multiple fetuses carries a higher risk of early labor and low birth weight than pregnancy with a single fetus. With IVF there is a slight risk of premature delivery and low birth weight.
Besides this, during the process of IVF, the use of injectable fertility drugs, such as human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), to induce ovulation can actually cause an ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which ovaries swell up and this can be painful. About two to five percent of women who use IVF have an ectopic pregnancy — when the fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. The fertilized egg can’t survive outside the uterus, and there's no way to continue the pregnancy.
Much like any other medical process, the success of IVF depends on certain key factors like maternal age, embryo status, and reproductive history. Freezing eggs of women under 35 years of age, to be used later for IVF increases the success rate as well!
The best way to go about this treatment is to first consult a genetic counselor, followed by a qualified doctor. After all, the joy of having your little one is surely worth all the efforts, isn’t it?