In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
It is not a life threatening condition but it is socially and psychologically destabilizing with affected couples suffering a level of stigmatization in the society. It is a cause of mental disharmony.
Globally, it affects about 15% of couples. The incidence is higher in the sub-Saharan Africa ranging between 20-45% due to high rates of STDs, complications of unsafe abortion, genital and tract infection following delivery. About 30% of infertility is due to female factors, 30% to male factors and 30% to combine male and female factors, while in 10% of cases, no recognizable cause.
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The main cause include; problems with the semen of the male, blockage of the female fallopian tubes, abnormalities of the egg production or its release by the female and abnormalities in the womb or its lining.
The impact of infertility on couples has been worsened by misinformation and misunderstanding of the cause, and treatment. Accurate diagnosis of the cause for individual couple is vital for their treatment. There are several methods used for treatment of infertility in a particular couple.
Assisted Reproductive technology is any form of medical /surgical assistance rendered to infertile couple to overcome the challenge of infertility. The scope of assistance depends on the cause and extent of the condition. The assistance may be in any of the following ways:
Ovulation induction and timed intercourse: here, women experiencing ovulation challenge (release of egg) is given drug presciptions to help her ovulate and then timed to have intercourse within ovulation period.
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI): this is done when the male sperm count is low or when received from a donor.
In this treatment, the sperm is prepared in the laboratory, and the good ones are screened out and injected into the woman’s womb during ovulation and allowed to swim upwards into the tubes to fertilize the eggs released by the woman.
In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer (IVF ET): In this treatment, the fallopian tube is bypassed. The woman is admisntered hormonal drugs to cause growth of eggs which are retrieved and prepared in the laboratory. Sperm from the man are also collected and prepared in the laboratory and mixed with the eggs then allowed to fertilize. Embryos that result from the fertilization are then transferred into the woman’s womb and allowed to grow.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): This transplant involves more preparation of sperm than IVF. It is done when the sperm quality is low. A specific good sperm is selected and injected directly into the egg to fertilize it and the resulting embryo is transferred into the womb.
Gamete Intra fallopian transfer (GIFT): this is not commonly practiced now expect in places where fertilization in the woman is the only acceptable type of ART. In this treatment, prepared eggs and sperms are placed in the fallopian tubes and allowed to fertilize each other mimicking the natural environment for fertilization that occurs in spontaneous conception.
In all these treatment modalities, the specialists will only do their best but there is no 100% guarantee of success for any treatment. Only God will know who gets what outcome. So the specialists do not assume the position of God in assisted reproductive technology.
In conclusion, couples experiencing infertility are advised to seek the right counsel from the expects on time and aging has a great impact on reproductive capacity especially in the woman. Accurate diagnosis and specific treatment modalities for individual couple is key to success.