Studies have found that globally, around 12-15% of couples are unable to conceive naturally. There are various factors that influence the failure of natural conception. The fertility industry has led extensive studies into understanding this natural conception process, in order to mimic the necessary steps leading to pregnancy. Therefore, today we have the access to, and the option to choose many Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) such as IVF, IUI or ICSI, which can be availed to great benefits.
IVF is considered to be one of the most advanced procedures among ART procedures. It can help circumvent a massive variety of the underlying causes of infertility and improve the couple’s chances of conceiving. In the IVF or In Vitro Fertilization technique, mature eggs are extracted from the female partner, which is then externally fertilised in a laboratory environment with sperm cells obtained from the male partner.
Some of the factors leading to the consideration of IVF as a treatment procedure for infertility are as follows:
Male related Factors for considering IVF
- Semen Abnormalities
In male factor infertility, the quality and quantity of sperm present in the semen play a pivotal role in understanding the cause of infertility. The abnormalities may include issues such as low sperm concentration, low mobility of sperms, and structural abnormalities of the sperms, in the form of size or shape, which affects their movement in the uterus. This can be caused due to various genetic, or even lifestyle problems.
In IVF and ICSI, good sperm could be selected to fertilize the egg outside the human body, thereby bypassing the hurdles of low sperm count, mobility, or structural defects.
- Semen Transport Abnormalities
When the sperm is unable to move from the testicular area (which is the site of sperm production) to the ejaculatory duct or penis for ejaculation or is unable to move from the male reproductive tract to the female reproductive tract for fertilisation, IVF can be performed after extracting the sperm cells using techniques such as TESA or PESA.
Female related Factors for considering IVF
- Ovulation Related Problems
Ovulation is one of the primary requirements for the proper functioning of the female reproductive system. Without ovulation, the egg is not released from the ovary. The reasons for troubles with ovulation could be many. In IVF, extra medication, in the form of injections, is given to the woman to stimulate and grow more eggs in the ovaries. These eggs are later extracted from the ovaries and injected with sperm to create embryos outside the human body.
- Fallopian Tube Related Problems
Fallopian tubes are very important in natural conception. When damaged or blocked, they can prevent the fertilization of the ovum (egg) or interfere with the passage of the embryo (fertilized egg) into the uterus. These blockages often cause ectopic pregnancies, even if the sperm does manage to fertilise the egg. IVF bypasses the requirement of fallopian tubes by placing the embryo, created outside the human body, into the uterus directly.
3. Uterus-Related Problems
It is a medical condition where the inner uterine tissue grows outside the uterus causing a lot of pain and fertility complications. Endometriosis often forms blockages in the pathways of the egg and sperm, and the scar tissue interferes with implantation. While it doesn’t always affect the chances of pregnancy in mild cases, IVF treatments have proven to be successful in treating moderate to severe cases of endometriosis¹.
- Pelvic Adhesions and Uterine Fibroids
Pelvic adhesions refer to the formation of scar tissues on the walls of the uterus or fallopian tubes. It can be caused due to surgery or conditions like endometriosis. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths on the surface of the uterus which can interfere with implantation.
In cases of unexplained infertility, where the test results cannot detect the cause of infertility, treatments such as IVF can help overcome the undiagnosed causes. Prior to approaching IVF, the couple ideally undergoes various other corrective treatments such as ovulation induction or multiple cycles of IUI before getting into IVF.
1.For Screening Genetic Disorders in an Embryo
- In Cases with a History of Miscarriages
It was found that approximately 50-70% of pregnancy losses were caused by genetic and chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo. In cases of multiple miscarriages, an IVF with Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) may be advised. The embryos created during the IVF process are examined to determine genetic abnormalities. It helps to ensure that the embryos that are less prone to cause miscarriage are transferred.
- In cases with a Risk of Inheritance of Genetic Disorders
In case either parent is a risk of passing on an inheritable disorder to their offspring, they can opt for IVF and undergo Pre-Implantation Genetic Testing (PGT)/ Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) before the transfer of the embryo back into the uterus.
2. For Fertility Preservation by freezing Embryos or Gametes
If either parent has to undergo invasive treatment procedures such as chemotherapy
Certain treatments, such as Chemotherapy, can affect the quality of the gametes (which are the egg and the sperm), or even cause sterilization. Hence, in order to preserve fertility, couples can decide to freeze their sperm and eggs and use them later to create embryos through the process of IVF.
If a couple wants to delay their plans of having a baby
If a couple decides to delay their plans of having a baby, they can opt to preserve their fertility. This can be done by freezing and storing their eggs and sperm and using them later. Significant research backs the fact that the quality of the gametes, especially that of the eggs deteriorates significantly with age. Thus, in a bid to preserve their chances of conceiving a child later, freezing their eggs gives them an option to conceive later through IVF.
Thus, the popularity of IVF is due to its ability to overstep a lot of the anatomical and physiological defects in both the male and female reproductive systems that have been causing infertility. However, taking a decision to avail of the IVF procedure is often not very simple. There are various considerations to be made on the physical, mental, and on financial sides. The procedure carries baggage of physiological and financial risks, and this should be considered seriously before opting for the treatment.
Have more questions about the IVF procedure and when should you consider it? Speak with our Fertility Specialists
Ferticare can help you on your way to becoming pregnant. Ferticare will provide assistance at every step of the process. It starts from the initial consultation to determining the best fertility therapy for you. We provide patients with tailored, cost-effective treatment plans and link them with the best physician for their requirements.
Meet with one of our fertility specialists if you are having difficulty becoming pregnant. We can help if you have any more questions regarding the IVF procedure.
Visit www.ferticare.in right away or arrange a consultation!