In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body: in vitro (Latin: in glass). IVF is a major treatment for infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory process, removing ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting the sperm fertilize them in a fluid medium at a laboratory. The fertilized egg (zygote) is cultured for 2–6 days in a growth medium and is then transferred to the mother's uterus with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy. The first successful birth of a "test tube baby", Louise Brown, occurred in1978. Louise Brown was born as a result of natural cycle IVF where no stimulation was made. Robert G. Edwards, the physiologist who developed the treatment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010.
IVF treatment may be used to overcome female and male infertility cases. Female infertility may be due to problems with the fallopian tubes, making fertilization in vivo (Latin: within the living) difficult. Male infertility occurs in cases where there is a defect in sperm quality or when sperm numbers are very low. In such cases intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used, where a sperm cell is injected directly into the egg cell. This is used when sperm have difficulty penetrating the egg. With the use of ICSI, the success rates of IVF have increased a lot.
WHO IS THIS FOR
Couples who have been unable to conceive naturally or have used other conception methods without success