Over the past several decades, medical technology and research has focused on the field of providing treatment options for couples and individuals who are having trouble conceiving or bearing a child to term. Some of these infertility options, such as artificial insemination, have been around for generations. Others, such as in vitro fertilization, commonly known as IVF, are relatively new.
The first successful use of IVF dates to 1977, when two doctors in Cambridge, UK, teamed up to perform the first successful full IVF procedure. Louise Joy Brown, the baby born from that procedure, was born in 1978. Since then, millions of babies have been conceived through IVF throughout the world – and scientists and doctors have developed the technology and combined it with other infertility options to create an array of treatments from which couples can choose when they want to conceive.
IVF is a suitable option in many different situations. Originally, doctors recommended it for women who had scarred or blocked fallopian tubes, a common result of endometriosis. It involved a surgeon retrieving eggs from the woman’s functioning ovaries, mixing them in vitro with sperm, often taken from the woman’s partner, then placing them into the woman’s uterus to attach and implant in the womb. From that point on, the pregnancy proceeds normally.
Today, IVF is often used in combination with other infertility options, particularly with gestational surrogacy, in which a surrogate mother carries a pregnancy for the gestational mother. Gestational surrogacy can also take many different forms, and choosing the right one is a decision to be made between the doctor, the parent and the surrogate.
A woman who has had her uterus removed but still has functioning ovaries, for example, may choose to have her own eggs harvested, and utilize a surrogate mother to carry the pregnancy for her. In that case, the child is genetically hers and carries her traits. If the parents also choose to use the male partner’s sperm to fertilize the egg, the baby is genetically no different than if they had conceived without medical assistance.
Sometimes, women who have trouble conceiving because of problems with their eggs or ovaries will choose to use eggs donated by an egg donor. Parents may also choose to use sperm from a sperm donor for various reasons. All of those decisions are valid and private, and every parent has a right to make the decisions and choices that work best for his or her situation.
There are many infertility centers and clinics throughout the country that offer a wide range of options for people who want to become parents but can’t, no matter the reason. If you’re exploring infertility options and treatments, these centers offer an excellent starting point and resource to help you learn more about the various treatments available to help you conceive.