Is IVF an established technology?
The year 1978 heralded a break through in infertility management when assisted reproduction technology (ART) brought into the world the first IVF (in vitro fertilized) baby, or Test tube baby as the process was then known. 25th July 1978 was the day on which, Doctors Patricks Steptoe and sir Robert Edward had the honour of bringing into the world Louis Brown, the world’s first IVF baby.
Simply put, IVF refers to a baby made outside the body and then put into the uterus to grow for 9 months. However 44 years after the first IVF baby was born, the process of IVF remains an enigma, many families still believing that IVF babies may not be normal, may not be genetically theirs, and may stand apart from the rest of the babies.
It is important to understand that IVF or as it is commonly called even today,Test Tube baby, is nothing but Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART).
The male and the female partners both contribute towards the making of the little new wonder in their unique way. The male partner contributes only the sperm & the sperm is the motile component of the whole procedure. Therefore when trying to conceive the male partner is asked to do a Semen analysis, which gives an idea of the quantity and quality of the sperms.
The quality of the sperm is determined by it’s motility, that is it’s ability to move ahead speedily, and it’s morphology – the appearance of the sperm. There are unfortunate cases where the semen has no sperm in it (Azoospermia) or the quantity may not be sufficient enough to achieve conception (Oligospermia). This can be due to either no or low production or no or poor supply. This however needs to be investigated to find the correct reason.
Every male, however, needs to understand one very important point. That the ability to perform sex and the ability to impregnate are different aspects. Meaning that even if the male is unable to perform sex due to impotency (erection failure), he may still be able to cause conception by resorting to IVF technology.
The female partners play a major role. This is because along with her gametes she also provides the lodging boarding facility to the growing baby for 9 months. Like male counterparts, both the quantity and quality of the ovum or eggs matter. Since the ovaries are hidden inside the body, indirect means like sonography and blood tests need to be resorted to, to get an idea of the situation.
There are three categories of eggs.
The normal range ovaries (A), over-enthusiastic ovaries (B) & tired ovaries. (C).
The B and C categories are the ones which need more care & management than type A. The quality of eggs cannot be commented upon till visualized. However, we can safely say that the quantity and quality islikely to be good in A and may be compromised in B and C.
When two factors are responsible for a result, they must come together.
The sperm needs to reach the egg, get fertilized and then the resultant embryo needs to get back to the uterus, be nurtured and nourished, enabling it to grow well, eventually resulting in a mature baby at the end of the gestation period.
The path taken by the sperm and subsequently by the embryo after fertilization, is through the fallopian tubes. These are tunnels originating from the uterus ending in a hood over the ovary. They possess minute hair-like structures called Fimbriae, to push the embryo towards the uterus.
There are times when everything seems so right but yet nothing works right.
Therefore, if there is an absence of pregnancy even after a year of persistent and meticulous attempts then it is advisable that the couple seeks the help of assissted reproduction technology.
It rather means that help is available and it should be availed, just as it is for any other medical problem with human shortcomings.
- Taking the first steps towards pregnancy is consulting a fertility professional and getting yourself and your partner assessed,
It is very important to understand that both the partners should be assessed simultaneously for a positive outcome.
- When a couple goes to a clinic they will first be requested to tell about their history.
This means, they will give details about their age, period of marriage, period since when they have been trying to have a baby, their sexual life, contraception method, if any used previously, any previous elements if any, menstrual issues, sonography reports etc. for the female partners and any ejaculatory issues, and semen analysis for the male partner.
- Every couple needs to be honest with their doctor and can rest assured that the doctor and team will maintain absolute secrecy regarding their medical records.
The cooing and gurgling of a baby is the most awaited moment in the life of most couples. They aspire to attain parenthood within a few years of marital bliss, however, the world fails to understand that, our body is a machine and it is not necessary that every organ works to perfection. The percentage of families that find it difficult to conceive on their own is growing and is close to over 20% as of now. However, a major portion of this population can safely and reliably find solace in established infertility management technologies like IUI, IVF, ICSI, IMSI, TES – PESA, etc.