In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
IVF is a medical procedure in which the eggs and sperm are combined outside of the body. In vitro literally means, in glass, as the fertilization and early embryo development happen in a laboratory dish . IVF is also known as the “test tube baby procedure,” even though embryos are neither fertilized nor grown in a test tube.
IVF is not a new procedure and it is not experimental. The first IVF baby is now over 30 years old and even has 2 children of her own. Since that first conception in the UK, millions of healthy babies have been delivered from IVF.
Even though IVF was first developed to help women with missing or damaged fallopian tubes, it is now routinely used to treat infertility caused by many different problems such as sperm problems, endometriosis, unexplained infertility and any other type of infertility that does not respond to more conventional treatments.
The IVF procedure is best understood as a series of steps that lead up to a successful pregnancy.
ICSI- Intracystoplasmic Sperm Injection
In the early days of IVF, treatment of couples with male factor infertility (sperm abnormalities) was difficult since poor quality sperm were often unable to fertilize the eggs. In the early 1990’s, a new technique for fertilizing eggs at IVF called ICSI was developed. ICSI involves injection of single sperm into an egg, and was successful with all but the most abnormal sperm. Since the development of ICSI, the primary barrier to successful IVF treatment now became egg quality, and couples with only male infertility could expect good outcomes from IVF.
ICSI also opened up new barriers in treating couples with a condition called azoospermia. Azoospermic men have no sperm in their ejaculate but often will have a blockage or still have very small numbers of sperm still in the testes. By fertilizing with ICSI, doctors can now use sperm obtained by biopsy or aspiration (procedures known as surgical sperm retrieval (SSR), TESE, TESA, MESA, PESA) and go on to have families with IVF.