Submitted by Kate Seldman Thu 06/23/2011
The advantages of in vitro fertilization, or IVF, are quite clear: if this fertility treatment works, you end up with a baby of your own. Medical technology can allow you to overcome fertility problems and conceive a child with your and/or your partner’s genetic material. IVF usually involves taking mature eggs from a woman, fertilizing them with her partner’s sperm, and putting the fertilized eggs back into her uterus, where they will hopefully grow into a baby. IVF can also be done with donor eggs and/or donor sperm. After the eggs are fertilized, they sit for three to five days while they grow into tiny embryos. They’re then put into the woman’s uterus via a catheter inserted through her cervix. They’ll hopefully implant into her uterine wall and continue to grow. One huge advantage of IVF is that if a woman has fertility issues, this procedure can work around them and let her conceive successfully. If she has blocked fallopian tubes or if she’s had to have them removed, IVF bypasses the tubes entirely. Some women also have issues with their fallopian tubes releasing fluids that harm their eggs before they can be fertilized, or with their bodies releasing antibodies that damage eggs or sperm: these problems can sometimes also be gotten around by using IVF. If a woman does not ovulate, she can take drugs that stimulate her ovaries to release eggs. Also, if she has endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome, IVF can help her conceive without having to worry about these conditions affecting her fertility. IVF also has an advantage over artificial insemination, in that it can work even when a woman’s fallopian tubes are damaged. Artificial insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination or IUI, still utilizes the fallopian tube: the egg must travel into it, and so must the sperm, in order for fertilization to occur.