In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a medical procedure developed in the late 1970s for the infertility treatment. Fundamentally, IVF means that a doctor removes ovules from a woman's body and fecundates them in a laboratory or "in vitro", instead of allowing them to be naturally fertilized in a woman's body or "live." In 2010, almost 150,000 of the IVF procedures were attempted in the United States alone.
Reasons to get an IVF
Primarily, IVF is used by women with blocked fallopian tubes. It is also used in cases of male infertility when a man has so few healthy sperm that there is almost no chance of natural fertilization. Other common reasons for using it include problems of quality or number of eggs ("ovarian reserve"), especially in women aged 35 to 40 years or more. Women with fertility problems such as endometriosis, ovulation disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS or sterility of unknown origin, often also conceive of the use of IVF if other treatments have not resulted in a pregnancy. It is also used to perform the genetic diagnosis of preimplantation, a method to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases from parents to children, as well as to reduce the risk of recurrent miscarriage.
The IVF process
The IVF consists of a minimum of six steps: 1) The woman is given medication to temporarily deactivate her natural hormonal reproductive system. 2) With additional medication the ovaries are stimulated so that they produce multiple ovules simultaneously as opposed to the only egg that the body produces naturally every month. 3) Intensive medical surveillance of the patient's response to medication, usually through blood tests and / or ultrasound every three to three days from 10 to 14 days. 4) Recovery of oocytes, a minor surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia when the eggs are removed from the woman's body. 5) In the embryology laboratory the eggs and sperm are combined and the resulting embryos are carefully incubated for three to six days and 6) Transfer of one or more embryos to the woman's uterus.
In general, IVF is a safe and well tolerated treatment option for fertility. However, as with any medical or surgical intervention, there are some risks. A risk is that of multiple pregnancies. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, in general, of the women who conceive through the IVF, approximately two thirds have pregnancies with a single and a third multiple fetuses. The vast majority of multiple pregnancies are twins.Triplets (or more) are rare (1% or less).
Women who are sensitive to fertility medication may experience ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea. In 1% of cases, women experience dehydration, fluid in the lungs or other symptoms that require hospitalization. The OHSS is resolved over time and new strategies that focus on prevention have been quite successful.
Women who need IVF to conceive are at greater risk of having some obstetric complications such as miscarriage, premature delivery, placental problems and cesarean delivery. Many of these risks are probably related to the high incidence of twin pregnancies in IVF plus the IVF procedure itself.
The vast majority of IVF babies are as healthy as naturally conceived children. However, some studies have suggested that IVF babies have a higher risk of birth defects than other children. It is not clear to what extent these problems are related to the presence of infertility in the parents, as opposed to the IVF procedure itself.
The success rate of the IVF is very variable. If a woman decides to use her own eggs, the main predictor of success for IVF is her age. In women under 35, approximately 50% of IVF cycles result in pregnancy, whereas less than 10% of IVF procedures in women 43 years or older are successful.