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In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Many women or couples experience problems when they attempt to have a child. Infertility is a common medical condition which has many causes and there many solutions to remedy it. One of the most reliable and effective treatments is In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). In this process an egg is fertilised by sperm outside the body: in vitro. IVF is one of the leading treatments for infertility as it often proves successful when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed.

The first step of the process involves monitoring a woman's ovulatory cycle. This is followed by removing ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries. Then sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium in a laboratory. In cases where a woman's natural cycle is monitored to collect a naturally selected ovum (egg) for fertilisation, it is known as natural cycle IVF. The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus with the intention of beginning a successful pregnancy. The result is a so-called "test tube baby".

Historically, Louise Brown was the world's first successful birth using this method. She was born in 1978. Louise Brown was born as the result of this procedure used in conjuncture with her mother's natural cycle IVF. This was a ground-breaking scientific achievement. In recognition of it Robert G. Edwards, the physiologist who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010.

When the IVF procedure is successful it is combined with a process known as embryo transfer, which involves physically placing the embryo in the uterus. There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process which include the monitoring and stimulation of the development of the healthy egg or eggs in the ovaries. The eggs are collected and the sperm secured. The eggs and sperm are collected together in the laboratory and provide the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth. Finally the embryo is transferred into the uterus.

Your chances of having a healthy baby using in vitro fertilization will depend on many factors. Some variables may include the cause of your infertility and your age. Be aware that in vitro fertilization can be time-consuming, invasive and expensive. You may also get more than you bargined for if you are trying to have only one child. It is possible that if more than one embryo is implanted in your uterus, in vitro fertilization can result in a multiple pregnancy. Talk everything over with your doctor. They can help you understand how in vitro fertilization works, the potential risks and whether this method of treating infertility is right for you.

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