In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a process by which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. 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 fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. The first successful birth of a "test tube baby", Louise Brown, occurred in 1978. Robert G. Edwards, the doctor who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010. Before that, there was a transient biochemical pregnancy reported by Australian Foxton School researchers in 1953 and an ectopic pregnancy reported by Steptoe and Edwards in 1976. At the same time, Subash Mukhopadyay, a relatively unknown physician from Kolkata, India was performing experiments on his own with primitive instruments and a house hold refrigerator and this resulted in a test tube baby, later named as "Durga" (alias Kanupriya Agarwal) who was born on October 3, 1978.
Starting IVF treatment can be an exciting but nerve wracking experience. Usually, IVF treatment is pursued once other treatments have failed, following months of trying to get pregnant unsuccessfully. IVF treatment is the very first treatment tried when an egg donor is being used, there are severe cases of male infertility or a woman's fallopian tubes are blocked. Still, this often comes after years of trying to get pregnant, followed by a slew of fertility testing.
IVF treatment is often successful, though, it may take more than one try. Studies show that the potential for success with IVF treatment is the same for up to four cycles. Generally, the live birth rate for each IVF cycle is 30 to 35% for women under age 35, 25% for women between the ages of 35 and 37, 15 to 20% for women between the ages of 38 and 40 and 6 to 10% for women after age 40. (When an egg donor is used, however, success rates remain high even at age 40, with a 45% success rate.)
If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't feel bad. IVF treatment is quite stressful. Just looking over the schedule of ultrasounds, blood work, injections and so on can have you feeling fragile. (And that's before the drugs have a chance to mess with your moods!)
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