In Vitro Fertilization – An Overview
What is in vitro fertilization or IVF?
IVF is commonly known as ‘test tube baby’. It involves stimulating the ovaries to make multiple eggs grow and then taking the eggs out of the woman, fertilizing them in the laboratory with her partner’s sperm and transferring embryos back to her uterus. Egg + sperm form an embryo. The embryo implants in the uterus to grow into a baby.
The first IVF baby in the world (Louise Brown) was born in July of 1978 in England. Louise Brown was 28 when she delivered her own baby in 2006. Her baby was conceived by IVF. Hundreds of thousands of children are now born annually as a result of the IVF technique.
Who is treated with in vitro fertilization?
There are many reasons why IVF is advised. We have listed some of them below
Blocked fallopian tubes.
Very low sperm counts – when the total motile sperm count is less than 1 million
Failed intrauterine insemination (after 4-6 cycles)
Advanced female age – over about 35 yrs of age with other reasons for infertility
Reduced ovarian reserve – which means that there are reduced numbers of remaining eggs within the ovary
Age > 35 years with other reasons for infertility
How does IVF improve your chances of getting pregnant?
In a woman who has regular periods a single egg is produced each month. This has to be transported through the tube. Sperms have to be present in adequate numbers and be able to swim through the uterus and reach the egg in the tube for union to occur. Once they unite to form an embryo, the embryo has to be transported to the lining of the uterus to implant and grow to form the baby.
In IVF we are compressing many months of ‘natural’ attempts into one cycle. In other words
We give hormone injections and stimulate the ovaries to produce many eggs – as opposed to a single egg
forming in a natural cycle
We take the eggs out when they are ready( bypassing the tubes )
We facilitate fertilization by adding adequate sperms to each egg in a dish ( therefore the term test tube baby)
We can check if the eggs are fertilized and select the best embryos to be replaced
We then transfer the best embryos into the cavity of the uterus