IVF or In Vitro Fertilization is one of the famous fertility treatment where eggs from a woman’s ovaries are is retrieved and fertilized in vitro that is in laboratories with the sperm to produce embryo. This embryo can be stored by freezing or can be transferred to woman’s uterus. This technique became a boon to couples who were facing infertilely or pregnancy related issues.
SOME OF THE INFERTILITY ISSUES:
- Chances of fertility is reduced in woman over 40 years of age.
- There may be damages in the fallopian tube of the female which may be causing infertility.
- Reduction in the function of the ovaries due to various reasons.
- Endometriosis– Where the tissue that normally grows inside the uterus, lining it, will grow outside it.
- Uterine fibroids – Non cancerous growths in the uterus
- In males, low sperm count
- Abnormalities in sperm shape
WHAT ARE THE PROCEDURES BEFORE IVF
Before IVF women undergoes ovarian reserve testing which involves tests for the level of follicle stimulating hormone in blood. Examination of the uterus usually by doing ultrasound to know the health of the uterus. Men will have sperm testing which is done by taking semen sample and analyzing for the sperm size, number and shape. If the sperms are weak or damaged, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is performed where sperm is directly injected to the egg by the technician. Otherwise sperms are left to fertilize the egg in incubation.
HOW IVF IS PERFORMED
- Stimulation: IVF requires multiple eggs to make sure that viable embryos are produced. A woman produces only one egg during one menstrual cycle. So drugs are injected into female body to stimulate the production of multiple eggs. The doctor will perform multiple blood tests to monitor the production of eggs and to decide when to retrieve them.
- Egg retrieval: It is a surgical process. Doctor uses an ultrasound wand to direct a needle into the ovaries through vagina to an egg containing follicle. This needle takes out the eggs through suction.
- Insemination: Semen sample is taken by the male partner. Technician will mix the sperm with the eggs in a petri dish. If it did not work they may go for ICSI.
- Transfer: Normally after 3-5 days after insemination, when embryos become big enough, they are implanted into the uterus. A catheter is introduced into vagina past the cervix into uterus. Embryo is released. Then embryo implants itself to the uterine wall. A blood test will determine if the female is pregnant or not.
- There can be multiple pregnancy which can result in low birth weight.
- There is a risk of miscarriage.
- Embryos can be implanted outside the uterus leading to ectopic pregnancy.
- bleeding, infection or damage to bladder.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation disorder.
SOME OF THE MYTHS ABOUT IVF
- IVF can be done at any age: This is not true. As the age of women increases she may not be able to produce many eggs and that time IVF can not be done.
- Fertility drugs cause cancer: The drugs used to stimulate egg production are safe. No studies have shown increased risk of cancer.
- IVF babies have risk of birth defects and malformations: Not true. Even though there is slight increase in the malformation as compared to normal births, but the risk remains low as studies say.
- IVF is dangerous: IVF is not dangerous. Only 1-2% patients become unwell.
- IVF is for rich people: This is little bit costly but less expensive compared to other surgical treatments.
LEGAL ASPECT OF IVF
IVF is legal in India. But there is no specific law regarding the aspect. But IVF has gained public attention and needs a good law to monitor.