IVF – An Often Successful Last Resort

IVF or In vitro fertilization is a method in which sperm cells fertilize egg cells outside of the mother’s womb ‘in vitro,’ or in a test tube. IVF is one way to treat infertility after failed attempts have been made in other types of technology for assisted reproduction.

How IVF Works

IVF involves controlling the process of ovulation with the use of hormones, extracting eggs from the ovaries of the mother and, using a fluid medium, letting sperm then fertilize the eggs. The zygote or fertilized egg is then transferred back into the uterus of the mother with the sole objective of creating a pregnancy which is successful. The words ‘in vitro’ mean ‘inside the glass’ since the early experiments involving biological tissue cultivation outside a live organism was carried out in test tubes, beakers or Petri dishes, all of which are made of glass.

Test Tube Babies

Louise Brown was the first baby conceived in a test tube that was deemed successful and since then the term ‘test tube baby’ has become a household term. Although babies born via IVF are called ‘test tube babies,’ the IVF procedure is usually done in a Petri dish. For parents who want to have multiple births, the IVF procedure is done using a method called autologous endometrial coculture.

More About IVF

In vitro fertilization is the method utilized in order to overcome a woman’s infertility due to fallopian tube problems which may make ‘in vivo’ fertilization difficult. IVF is also used to assist a man’s infertility problem if he has a defect in the quality of his sperm. If this is the case, ICSI or intracytoplasmic sperm injections are used in which a sperm cell is injected directly into the mother’s egg cell. In cases when the sperm has a hard time penetrating the egg, or the sperm count is very low this method is used.

IVF is somewhat a more expensive procedure and is thus used after other options that are not as expensive have been attempted unsuccessfully. IVF is also sometimes combined with PGD or pre-implantation gene diagnosis in order to make sure that the presence of disorders which are genetic are ruled out. Another similar test which is more general is called PGH or pre-implantation gene haplotyping. Many labs have come up with methods of grading in order to assess the quality of embryos. Most often, embryos which are in the sixth to eighth stage of cell development are transferred after getting retrieved.

Many Australian, American or Canadian programs place the embryo in a system of culture which is extended and the transfer performed at the stage of blastocyst which is five days after being retrieved. High rates of pregnancy are shown to be a result of these blastocyst stage transfers. In Europe, the transferring of the embryo after two days is more common. PGD or pre-implantation gene diagnosis methods are the standard operating procedures performed just before the transfer of the embryo is achieved. 

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