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Not being able to conceive a child naturally is a problem that plagues more couples than is commonly believed. Infertility in either partner can become a hurdle to having a biologically conceived baby. IVF is a boon for millions of such couples who have experienced its benefits.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method of assisted reproduction serving couples who have problems in conceiving a child without intervention. In this procedure the female partner is given special medication to stimulate the ovaries. This leads to the production of more eggs.
These eggs are surgically harvested after they ripen. Sperms are then taken from the male partner, which are combined with the eggs in the lab. The embryos grow in the laboratory for a period of three to five days. The most viable embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus.
A pregnancy test is conducted after a week or so. A pregnancy may occur in the first cycle itself or depending on the average 30% success rate, more than one cycle may be needed for IVF to result in a pregnancy.
Advantages of IVF:
• Infertility can result from various reasons. For certain types of infertility, IVF really boosts the chances of pregnancy.
• Women with blocked fallopian tubes stand a good chance with IVF treatment.
• Men having a low sperm count stand to gain immensely from IVF.
• Weak sperm that is unable to fertilize the egg naturally responds well to IVF.
• With already created embryos, the sperm omits the need to find its way into the woman’s reproductive tract.
• IVF provides infertile couples with the option of choosing donor eggs in cases where the female partner may have issues with her own eggs including premature ovarian failure.
• Surrogate IVF uses eggs from the donor and the woman’s partner’s sperm to create embryos in the lab.
• This kind of assisted reproduction provides two options – one, the embryo can be implanted into the donor’s womb or into the woman’s uterus.
• IVF has the advantage of checking the eggs or the embryo for any genetic abnormalities.
• Doctors are able to test chromosomes in an embryo before going ahead with the complete IVF procedure.
IVF does not guarantee a pregnancy but it boosts chances of one. For millions around the globe it has become a method of choice. The success stories have brought immense joy to families. Many of the challenges in making the treatment successful can be overcome by a good doctor.
The odds of success decrease with age. It is best to choose IVF before age 35-40. But surprisingly there have even been reports of women on the brink of menopause getting pregnant after the IVF treatment! But that age is not what doctors recommend. The younger the woman is, the better the chances of success are.
There are some ethical and moral debates around IVF. These include the fate of the extra embryos that are not put back into the woman’s uterus. Frozen embryos are viewed by many as being equivalent to children. Often these embryos are utilized in impregnating the woman if the first few attempts at IVF fail.
Like many places in the world, IVF in India too is surrounded by ethical, moral and religious debate, but it cannot be denied that every couple who does not want to adopt, but have their own biological child has a right to make their own choice. And many childless couples are happily choosing IVF to become proud parents.