What is In Vitro Fertilization?
One of the better-known fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization (IVF) essentially involves fertilizing an ovum in a laboratory dish and then transferring the embryo to a woman’s uterus. IVF treatment is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) method suitable for couples with any one of various causes of infertility, including tubal factor infertility, endometriosis, and certain types of male factor infertility.
Who is a Candidate for IVF?
In vitro fertilization statistics suggest that couples under the age of 35 who have been trying to conceive for more than a year without results are ideal candidates for in vitro fertilization. Couples over the age of 35 who have been trying to conceive for six months may also be good candidates for IVF treatment. The following are a few causes of infertility that may be treated with in vitro fertilization:
- Ovulation disorders
- Blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- Low sperm count
- Sperm problems such as sperm immotility
Although there is no established age limit on in vitro fertilization, many infertility clinics and hospitals consider your age as part of the candidate screening process.
About IVF Treatment
In IVF treatment, eggs from a woman’s ovary are surgically removed and placed in a Petri dish, where they are united with sperm from a male. IVF treatment consists of several stages, including ovulation induction, egg harvesting, insemination and fertilization, and embryo transfer. Some couples also opt to undergo preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) to screen for chromosomal abnormalities.
Risks and Benefits of In Vitro Fertilization
Though there are many benefits of IVF treatment, the procedure is not without certain risks. Below are general risks and benefits to consider when contemplating whether or not to undergo IVF treatment. During a consultation, a fertility specialist will be able to go into greater detail about the various risks and benefits of in vitro fertilization.
There are certain risks associated with in vitro fertilization, as there are with any surgical procedure. Due to the technology and medical expertise necessary for IVF, cycles of treatment can be expensive, and the initial cycle does not always work. In addition, the use of multiple embryos during embryo transfer has been known to cause multiple births. Some studies suggest a slightly increased risk of genetic disorders among children conceived through in vitro fertilization, although other studies dispute these findings.
One of the most obvious benefits of in vitro fertilization is that it can enable an infertile couple to have a baby. IVF treatment can also reduce the need for surgery on the fallopian tubes.
In a recent study, nearly 1,000 European children who were conceived through in vitro fertilization and monitored from birth until age 5 were shown to be as healthy as children who were conceived naturally.
IVF Statistics – Pregnancy Success Rates
There are many factors that play a role in the success of IVF treatment, including the viability of the embryos, the age of the mother, and the quality of the sperm. In the United States, IVF success rates have been relatively high. By the end of 2002, nearly 300,000 babies conceived through assisted reproductive technology had been born. Currently, 99 percent of ART pregnancies are the result of IVF treatment. Approximately 37 percent of women under the age of 36 who undergo IVF experience a successful pregnancy. The success rate of IVF treatment for women aged 36 to 39 is 28 percent. And in women over the age of 40, IVF treatment is successful approximately 13 percent of the time. The success rates of IVF, as presented by these statistics, are similar to the success rates of natural means (copulation). The rate of miscarriage following IVF is also comparable to the rate of miscarriage after natural conception. Ectopic pregnancies occur in roughly 3 to 5 percent of in vitro fertilization cases, the same rate as in pregnancies achieved naturally.