IN-VITRO FERTILISATION OR IVF: Many of you would have heard of the “test tube’’ baby and wondered what really went into that test tube. Nothing unusual. It is the same sperm and egg which produce a baby except that they are made to meet and fertilise outside the womb when normal pregnancy does not occur.
So, what the doctor does is that he/she removes the egg from the woman and mixes it with the sperm of the man in a laboratory. A real test tube is obviously used. The sperm could be your man’s or a donor’s. So, is the case with the egg as well. Once fertilisation takes place, the egg is placed back where it belongs – the uterus – to go through the natural process of development.
One of the primary reasons why the IVF is considered to be the most preferred treatment for infertility is that it deals with various complex problems in simple ways. If the fallopian tubes are blocked or the sperm produced is not of the quality needed to fertilise the egg or the quality of eggs produced is poor (technically called reduced ovarian reserve), the solution lies in IVF.
INTRA-UTERINE INSEMINATION OR IUI: It means that a sperm sample is placed by the doctor inside the womb around the time ovulation takes place. Doctors generally advise this method when the cause of infertility is unknown or the quality of the sperm is not good enough to produce a baby. Invariably, doctors also inject the woman to stimulate the ovaries.
Post-injection, this process is normally monitored very closely by the doctors so that multiple eggs are not produced leading to the birth of twins or triplets or more. This is because it could lead to complications in both the mother and the foetus. More so if the mother is more than 38 years of age.
SPERM DONATION/ EGG DONATION: Donation of sperm or egg is not the same as donating money to charity. There are clear cut criteria for being accepted as a sperm donor or an egg donor. A donor egg or sperm is an option exercised only when either of the partners is found deficient.
The importance of healthy eggs cannot be over emphasised. So, those who donate eggs need to fulfil certain criteria. Every woman cannot be an egg donor. Normally, the preferred age of egg donors is between 21 and 35 years. An egg donor will have to undergo gynaecological tests, blood tests, urine tests and psychological evaluation apart from sharing of family and medical history.
The egg donor also undergoes medical tests before being administered fertility drugs by the doctor so that the number of eggs are enhanced. Once this is done, the eggs are mixed with the sperm of the father in the laboratory. Only the healthiest of embryos is transferred to the uterus of the mother.
The protocol is equally strict for the sperm donor. In the first place, the donor should be in the age group of 18 to 40 years. Apart from the standard medical and physical tests, the recipient of the donation has to also fulfil certain criteria before accepting the donation. For one, the fallopian tubes should be functioning normally. The recipient also is administered a series of fertility drugs so as to trigger the ovulation process.
Invariably, the factors that determine sperm donation are the donor’s height, build, hair, eyes, skin colour and ethnic origins. These may sound rather biased, but are parameters used by the recipient couple to make a decision before the process of insemination begins.