How To Take Advantage Of Some Infertility Solutions

By Karol Cardinson

In'78, the world's first "test-tube baby" Louise Brown, was born, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Drs. Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards. Not surprisingly, Louise's birth revolutionized reproductive medicine and offered new hope to countless infertile couples. Since her birth, tens of thousands infants have been delivered as a result of in vitro fertilization, more commonly known as IVF. IVF techniques are more sophisticated, more available, and are now considered standard fertility solutions.

Medically, ART does not represent a quantum leap from the treatment you already may be trying. But psychologically, ART does represent a major step for infertile couple; the last hope solution of producing a child who is theirs genetically.

For some couple ART is explored only after low-tech procedures have failed. Others wanting to maximize their odds of success despite the increased cost, may go directly to ART without trying any of the low-tech procedures. Nevertheless, ART may still be a couples last shot at parenthood because of its drain on their pocketbook as well as on their emotional life.

Medically ART embraces many of the low-tech procedures and regimens covered in other treatments. Humegon injections, blood monitoring, ultrasound scans, semen samples, and maybe even a laparoscopy. What's different is that eggs are physically removed from the women's body. Once removed, the eggs are mixed with sperm in a Petri dish and allowed to fertilize, either on their own or with some specialized assistance, before being transferred into the womb.

Psychologically, people who attempt these procedures must come to grips with the fact that ART is a further cry from lovemaking than is artificial insemination. At least during an insemination sperm is introduced through your vagina, albeit via a tube and syringe. With ART, eggs and sperm disappear behind closed doors, hopefully returning as embryos several days later.

Assisted reproductive technologies make use of laboratory procedures to examine eggs and sperm and enhance their likelihood of being fertilized. Although there are several variations on ART, they tend to be referred to as in vitro fertilization (IVF). In vitro means "in glass"-to refer to glass laboratory dishes in which fertilization takes place. Like tissues that are called "Kleenex" and photocopying procedures referred to as "Xeroxing", assisted reproductive techniques are often referred to as IVF.

There are approximately 350 IVF clinics operating nationwide, some freestanding, some hospital-based. Almost all of these clinics use the same techniques.
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