Infertility is a condition that prevents people from conceiving. A person is infertile when they are unable to reproduce. One of the main treatments for infertility is IVF, in vitro fertilization. Some of the many reasons that a person would use IVF are blockage of sperm, not enough sperm, genetic disorders; damage in the Fallopian tubes, endometriosis, or the woman’s embryo has stopped producing eggs. During In vitro Fertilization, eggs are retrieved from the woman’s ovaries and fertilized by the man’s sperm in a lab. After this, the now fertilized egg is inserted back into the woman’s uterus. IVF is one of the most reliable and effective treatments for infertility, though some may argue about whether or not it is ethical or moral.
There are many steps included in using in vitro fertilization to reproduce. In the first step of this process, women are given hormones to cause more eggs to develop in their ovaries. More than one egg is needed as not all eggs will develop or be able to be fertilized, after they have been collected from the woman’s ovaries. The next step involves the male producing sperm, which will then be tested. If the reason of infertility is due to the sperm, for example lack of sperm, the sperm can be removed through surgery. It is often frozen after collected for later use. After the woman completes the course of hormones, her eggs are ready to be collected. This is done using a long needle, which is inserted into the woman’s ovaries using the ultrasound to guide it. The eggs are then placed into a petri dish. Anesthesia is usually given to the woman during this step of the procedure in order to either sedate her or reduce the pain as the process is incredibly painful. The sperm is then thawed if previously frozen and prepared for combining with the eggs. The sperm is then also placed into the same petri dish as the eggs and kept in a laboratory. This is done to provoke the fertilization. This is known as insemination. If the chances of fertilization are low, intra cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is conducted. In this process, one sperm is inserted into an egg directly. After the eggs are fertilized, they are examined to make sure that the eggs are in fact fertilized and the cells are dividing. If the procedure is working and the eggs are fertilized, they can now be looked at as embryos. These embryos can be frozen for later use like the sperm or they can be left to continue the development procedure. Three to five days after the eggs have been fertilized, a small tube is placed inside the woman’s uterus, in order to move the embryos from the petri dish into the uterus. This usually does not cause any discomfort to the women. Usually, by the next day, the woman is fine to continue regular activities. Two weeks after the original implantation of the eggs the women are tested for pregnancy. If the procedure has been successful, the embryos will continue normal development.
This treatment is incredibly beneficial as it allows those who are unable to reproduce (due to multiple reasons) to do so. Another benefit of IVF is during the pregnancy it allows the parents to test the embryo for genetic diseases and to make sure that their future child is healthy. If the embryo is unhealthy, the parents can choose another embryo which is healthy. The success rate of IVF is now 45% for women under the age of 35 and decreases to 20% for women aged 40; it continues to decrease depending on the age of the woman.
One of the main drawbacks of in vitro fertilization is its financial aspect. This treatment is not an option for many couples wanting to reproduce because of this. The treatment is incredibly expensive and not 100% guaranteed. There is a possibility of multiple births (twins), which is increased during the process of IVF. The risk of premature deliveries and low birth weight is also heightened through the use of in vitro fertilization. IVF does not heighten or lower the risk of miscarriage so it is the same possibility of miscarriage as the general population (which is about 15-20% for women who are aware that they are pregnant).
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