In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilized by sperm outside of the womb, in vitro (from the Latin ‘in the glass’). It is one method of assisted reproductive technology (ART) used to overcome infertility. The first baby born from IVF was born in 1978.
IVF is only successful in 15-25 % of cases and success rates vary widely from clinic to clinic. To increase the chances of successful treatment, some clinics use several embryos per cycle; this however increases the risk of a multiple pregnancy, which is associated with a higher risk of complications, both for mother and baby.
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Process of IVF
The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilized egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient’s uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy.
- ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection): a single sperm is directly injected into an egg. There is concern that the technique could increase the risk of genetic defects that make the donor infertile being passed on to babies.
- Intrauterine insemination (IUI): sperm, which have been sorted for viability, is injected directly into the uterus. The aim is to maximise the number of healthy sperm reaching the fallopian tubes and fertilising an egg. IUI is often combined with ovarian stimulation to increase egg production and improve the rate of success.
IVF in Developing Countries
Due to the traditional primacy placed on having children (with infertility cited as cause for divorce), IVF has faced little cultural objection in Women and African Economic Development. The first baby to be born through IVF in West Africa was born in 1989 at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. By 2001, there were 8 conception centres in sub-Saharan Africa. There is no state regulation for ART or IVF yet.
In Latin America, the strong influence of the Catholic Church (who opposes IVF) has been linked with the low access to ART services in public hospitals. There is cno legislation on ART or IVF.
IVF in Europe
Europe is the world leader in ART services, performing over half of all reported treatment cycles worldwide. In 2002, over 324,000 cycles were reported in 25 European countries, an increase of 59% from 1997. More than half of all ART services in Europe took place in France , Germany and the Gender Equality in the Gender Equality in the United Kingdom according to the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE).
- UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
- C. Sorrenson, “ART in the European Union”, Euro Observer The Health Policy Bulletin of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies,(2006).
- “Assisted reproduction in developing countries: facing up to the issues”, Progress in Reproductive Health Research (2003)