What is IVF? This procedure was first pioneered by two men named Sir Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe back in 1978 -- not too long ago in the grand scheme of medical advancement. Since then, this technique has helped thousands of couples with the dream of having their own child.
IVF treatments occur at fertility clinics where couples must first consult a fertility expert who will make sure everyone understands the process, risks, and advantages involved. After a few consultations, an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. The fertilized egg is then cultured for a few days in a growth medium and then implanted into the woman's uterus to continue growth and ensure a successful pregnancy.
Advantages: A couple between the ages of 29 and 33 who are in perfect reproductive health only have a 20-25% shot at conceiving each month. With more and more couples deciding to wait to have a child, IVF is becoming increasingly popular. Here are some of the advantages to seeking IVF treatment.
- Male infertility: Fertility clinics aren't just for determining issues with women's reproductive systems -- men can often have issues as well. Generally, males who have an infertility problem actually have a high chance of conceiving via IVF.
- Blocked tubes: Women, for various reasons, may have blocked Fallopian tubes. Blocking this passageway means that the ovum released once a month cannot pass through into the uterus.
- Endometriosis: This rare but complicated and often life-threatening medical issue is when parts of the uterine lining grow outside the organ. Although more difficult to conceive via IVF, a fertility clinic may be able to offer alternative methods or suggest other medical treatment before IVF.
- Premature ovarian failure: Also rare, but some women may experience signs of menopause (which usually occurs when a women is in her 50s) earlier than others. During menopause, a woman loses her fertility and cannot produce viable ova anymore. However, IVF can be successful with the use of donor eggs.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome: Also known as PCOS, this condition is common and is caused by a hormone imbalance. Side effects include irregular menstrual cycles and severe cramping. However, IVF has a high success rate for these types of patients.
For those considering undergoing infertility treatment, it is important to understand that the process has a very safe track record and technology continues to advance to make it more efficient.