Let’s make babies in test tubes (IVF)
Yes, you heard it right, we are talking of test-tube babies, thanks to great development in the medical field, it is possible via assisted reproductive technologies. Stay tuned till the end, to know about a trusted place for IVF and orphan adoption.
Infertility is a reproductive tract disease of both males and females.15% of couples globally suffer from infertility (48 million couples). WHO defines infertility as the inability to get pregnant even after having timed and unprotected sexual intercourse after 12 months or more.
The reason for infertility in males and females can range over a large spectrum. Precise determination for the reason of being infertile is hard to make. Some reasons can be:-
- Unhealthy lifestyle and improper diet
- Immunological and physiological reasons
- Hormone imbalance (eg: testosterone/estrogen/progesterone)
Read more at –Infertility (who.int)
Taboo around infertility
A major taboo in India exists that infertility in couples is mostly due to the female partner. However that is not true, infertility between couples can also be due to the male partner.
Sometimes the testosterone levels of the male partner are not adequate and due to poor health and lifestyle, the sperms (male gamete) produced have improper shape and reduced mobility hence making them ineffective for fertilization.
In females, infertility can be due to a lot of reasons:-
- Unregulated menstrual cycle
- Hormone imbalance
- The uterus can show an extreme immunological response against sperms because it is an antigen (something that the body has not produced on its own and hence sperms are foreign to it)
- The frequency of ovum ( female gamete) production is unregulated
- The fallopian tube can be blocked
If successfully diagnosed by medical health professionals, a lot of treatments are available for infertility. In many cases, corrective treatments will not help couples to have children. Hence in those cases, medical health professionals can recommend ART i.e. Assisted Reproductive technologies.
Common ART-assisted reproductive technologies
ART stands for assisted reproductive technologies, these are techniques that are employed by professional medical workers to allow couples to have children through surgical procedures. Let’s have a look at common ART that doctors use:-
To begin with, IVF stands for in-vitro fertilization. This technique is commonly referred to as ‘test-tube babies’. In this technique, the sperms of the male partner and ovum of the female partner are taken and fertilization is done outside the body in a test tube assisted by a sterile controlled environment. Another key point is that laboratory conditions are made in such a way that they mimic the female reproductive tract. When fertilization takes place successfully the zygote is implanted into the female body through various techniques.
ET stands for Embryo Transfer, this is the technique used after successful in-vitro fertilization particularly. After the zygote has been created in simulated laboratory conditions, the embryo is now transferred to the female partner’s reproductive tract.
ZIFT stands for zygote intrafallopian transfer, as the name indicates after successful in vitro fertilization the zygote/embryo which is at the 8 blastomere stage particularly or less is transferred to the fallopian tube of the female partner’s reproductive tract so that successful implantation can occur and further development can happen.
IUT stands for intrauterine transfer, the embryo can also be transferred to the uterus for successful implantation and to complete further development. However, in this technique, the embryo should be at more than the 8 blastomere stage.
GIFT stands for gamete intrafallopian transfer. In some cases, the female partner has the suitable environment that is required for having a baby but it cannot produce ovum. In this technique, we take the ovum from a donor and transfer it to the fallopian tube of the female. Furthermore sexual intercourse can be done for successful fertilization.
ICSI stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This is a very precise technique in which microinjection is used to inject the male gamete, that is the sperm into the cytoplasm of the female gamete, the egg for successful fertilization.
AI stands for Artificial Insemination. This technique is used when the sperms that are produced by the male partner do not have the necessary effectiveness due to their improper size and reduced mobility for fertilization. In this case, sperms are taken specifically from a healthy donor or husband and are artificially introduced into the vagina or uterus.
IUI stands for intrauterine insemination, in this technique artificial insemination is done into the uterus of the female partner.
Challenges with ART
Assisted reproductive technologies are a very recent development and the specialized and precise equipment and expertise that is required is scarce. Quality doctors that have been properly trained to assist couples for ART are very few. Due to a reduced percentage of quality doctors and expensive facilities for ART, the cost of having babies by ART is very high. Hence these technologies can only be used by socio-economically wealthy sections of the society and not by all sections of society.
Another challenge that arises due to ART is that the population in many countries have various emotional, social and religious beliefs that are not aligned with this technique and hence they oppose these technologies.
Some estimates suggest that there are 30 million orphan children present in India, which is equivalent to 4% of the world’s youth population. Between March 2019-2020, only 3351 children were adopted. The adoption rate of India is the lowest among various other countries.
If the end goal is parenthood then parents should be encouraged to adopt children if they are facing issues in having a child of their own and also to overcome challenges of ART.
Fun fact: Did you all enjoy Good Newwz? Mimi (2021) is a great watch on assisted reproductive technologies, watch it out!
Keep reading at MBD for more curious biology topics. Let’s take baby steps for babies, let’s accept IVF. You can also sponsor an orphan at various government and NGO outlets available.
12th Biology students, check out more from the Reproductive Health chapter– Awareness of STDs and AIDS – My Biology Dictionary