The heartbreak of infertility can be devastating. After trying for many months and even years, some couples are not able to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term. Thankfully, this situation can be addressed by in vitro fertilization (IVF), a method that was developed and first used in England more than 30 years ago. In July of 1978, the first IVF baby in the world was born and since then hundreds of thousands of babies are born every year using this method.
IVF Fertility Treatment Is Effective
In vitro fertilization is an effective method of treatment for all causes of infertility except cases of infertility causes by severe uterine problems, such as intrauterine adhesions. Otherwise, IVF is successful in couples who experience infertility due to blocked fallopian tubes or pelvic adhesions, which are usually caused by pelvic inflammatory disease. Contraceptive surgery reversals for both men and women (tubal ligation or vasectomy) may necessitate IVF. In cases of male infertility, when a man has a low sperm count or the sperm have low motility, then an IVF process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is used to fertilize eggs even though the sperm quality is poor.
When Ovarian Stimulation Fails
Sometimes, prior to in vitro fertilization, a couple may undergo other types of fertility treatments. Ovarian stimulation involves injections of a medication that contains follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). It is intended to stimulate the ovaries to produce several follicles, which will become eggs. Intrauterine insemination (IUI) is another method of fertility treatment that is performed by inserting washed sperm with high motility directly into the uterus. If either of these fertility treatments fails after two to four cycles, then IVF is usually the next step in the fertility process.
Aging, Endometriosis and Unexplained Infertility Addressed With IVF
These days many women put off having children in order to fulfill career ambitions. When they arrive at their mid-30s, they decide to have a baby and may find it difficult to conceive. The issue with advanced female age and infertility is the quality and quantity of eggs available for fertilization. Poor egg quality translates into embryo problems after fertility. In cases such as this, egg retrieval or egg donation can be the IVF answer.
Women with severe cases of endometriosis, a disease in which uterine tissue grows outside of the womb, frequently are infertile. IVF is effective in helping women with endometriosis to become pregnant. IVF is also an effective treatment in cases of unexplained infertility when ICSI and IUI have failed. Unexplained infertility means that the cause of infertility has not been found using standard fertility testing.
Normally, human reproduction is very efficient and works well. However, in cases such as those explained above, in vitro fertilization is the preferred method of attaining pregnancy in spite of these issues.