In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
What is In Vitro Fertilization?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method of infertility treatment in which the sperm and the egg (oocyte) are combined in a laboratory dish for fertilization to occur. A doctor then transfers the resulting embryo(s) to the uterus to develop naturally. IVF treatment offers the highest rate of success of all the treatment options for infertility. It is also the most complex fertility treatment.
IVF has been successfully used for nearly three decades. Louise Brown, the first IVF baby (back then, she was referred to as the "test tube baby"), was born in 1978. Since then, technology and skills have become very advanced and fine-tuned. Accordingly, success rates for assisted reproductive technology (ART) have risen and are reported annually by members of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). As with all medical treatments, success depends on many variables from patient to patient and even cycle to cycle. Hundreds of thousands of children have resulted from IVF treatment.
IVF was originally intended as a way for women with blocked fallopian tubes to conceive a child. Because of its success, IVF is now used to treat a number of other infertility causes. When combined with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), IVF therapy results in success even for men with severe male factor infertility. The use of donor sperm and donor eggs with IVF may allow men and women who would otherwise not have a chance at pregnancy to experience the wonders of pregnancy, birth, and biological parenthood.
IVF can help under the following conditions:
- Low sperm count
- Uterus or fallopian tube abnormalities
- Ovulation disorders or problems
- Presence of antibodies that harm sperm or eggs
- Sperm that are unable to penetrate the egg or survive in the cervical mucus
- Unexplained infertility