IVF Support Grouops – For Support of Couples looking for IVF
We Care runs a network of support system for the couples seeking baby through IVF treatment. Knowledge of the entire treatment in detail by our IVF and Surrogacy Manager, personal contact with the IVF specialist doctor, testimonials and contact details of the successful IVF patients, information on the stay in India during treatment and other details are shared. We also assist couples with specific medical condition and couples seeking financial support.
For More Information contact at firstname.lastname@example.org
Treating Through IVF
For centuries people have tried to overcome infertility by whatever means they had available. For many years people had little understanding of how human reproduction worked – for example, a long held belief was that the man supplied the entire new baby in his sperm, and the woman simply acted as a kind of ‘super-seedbed’ , providing the growing child with all that it needed until it was born. Until beliefs like this were overturned by scientific knowledge of the way the reproductive system works, any attempts to overcome infertility were doomed to failure.
Exploring ways of treating infertility is not new science. In the 3rd century AD Jewish thinkers were discussing whether it was possible for people to become pregnant by accidental artificial insemination. By the 14th century AD people in the Arab countries were using artificial insemination in their horse breeding programs. In 1777 an Italian priest began experiments with artificial insemination in reptiles, and in 1785 there was a major breakthrough, when John Hunter, a Scottish surgeon, made his first attempts at human artificial insemination. As a result of his experiments a child was born that same year.
Into the Twentieth Century
The 20th century saw many significant advances in the treatment of infertility. In the early years of the century scientists like the Americans Samuel Crowe, Harvey Cushing and John Homans began to unravel the complex chemical control of human fertility. They, along with other scientists, discovered, isolated and identified the hormones made by the pituitary gland in the brain, and by the ovaries and testes.
At the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty first century there has been a great deal of controversy and debate about IVF and some of the other treatments which have developed from it. However this sort of debate is nothing new. Artificially assisting couples to have babies has always raised strong feelings – even in the early days there were people who were unhappy at what they saw as unnatural interference with nature or ‘God’s will’.
When early reports of artificial insemination using sperm from a donor were published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 1945 there was great debate in parliament and in 1948 the Archbishop of Canterbury of the time, the most senior clergyman in Britain, recommended that the practice should be made a criminal offence. The government didn’t follow that recommendation, although they did say that the practice was ‘undesirable and not to be encouraged’.
In 1949 the Italian Dr Piero Donini produced the first human fertility drug, but it took many years – until 1962 – before the first baby was born as a result of ovulation triggered using these drugs.
Meanwhile in 1954 things had moved forward again – there was a report of four successful pregnancies following the use of frozen sperm. In spite of this, it was another 16 years – that is until 1970 – before the use of artificial insemination using donor sperm became an officially accepted treatment for infertility in the UK. By this time the research had been spread across the world and in many countries including the USA, Australia and part of Europe artificial insemination was accepted and used.
As the 1960s dawned doctors and scientists all over the world were learning more and more about different parts of the process of reproduction, and all of this knowledge and understanding was needed before IVF could be developed.
This knowledge included the use of fertility drugs to regulate the numbers of eggs which matured in the ovary. Developments in the understanding of the ways in which eggs mature and the events of ovulation were also important. As scientists moved closer to IVF, it became vitally important that the process of fertilisation was thoroughly understood. Just as vital was knowledge about the way early human embryos develop in vitro in a glass petri dish outside of their natural environment in the body of the mother. It soon became apparent that human embryos could not survive long outside the ideal environment of the mother, so a transfer back to the mother would need to be done within the first few days after fertilisation. Only once all of this knowledge and understanding was in place could scientists take the next steps forward and move towards developing IVF.
Enter Edwards and Steptoe
The first time a human egg was fertilised successfully outside of the female body was in 1969. It was achieved by Dr Robert Edwards, an academic physiologist working at Cambridge University in the UK. He used human ovaries which had been removed during surgery as the source of his eggs. Eggs can’t just be taken out of the body and left in a dish – they need to be kept in a very special, chemically balanced fluid. This first human fertilisation took place in a culture medium which had been used very successfully for the fertilisation of hamster eggs in vitro during earlier, animal-based research into infertility treatments!
At the same time, Mr Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecologist working at the Royal Oldham Hospital was developing methods of extracting ripe human eggs from the ovary by laparoscopy. He could ‘harvest’ eggs, sucking them up from the ripe follicle at the stage when they could be fertilised. This was brave stuff, because at that time laparoscopy was considered ‘a dangerous procedure’.
The Birth of IVF – and Louise Brown
By 1971 Edwards and Steptoe had met and were sharing their ideas and expertise to work towards a successful fertility treatment. They worked on retrieving eggs from volunteers so they could time egg collection to perfection, and on the best culture conditions for maintaining a human egg and early embryo outside the body – in vitro. They did not use fertility drugs to enhance egg development. They simply monitored their patients very carefully and when ovulation appeared imminent (at whatever hour of the day or night) they operated and collected the egg by laparoscopy.
Before long they felt ready to attempt a pregnancy in an infertile volunteer. By 1975 success was on the horizon – a human embryo was replaced successfully in the body of it’s mother and a pregnancy began. But the elation was short lived. The longed for pregnancy developed not in the uterus of the mother but in her Fallopian tube. It was an ectopic pregnancy, where the embryo implants and develops in the Fallopian tube instead of in the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy can cause terrible pain and the risk of severe damage or even death to the mother. An operation was carried out to remove the tube with the growing embryo, dashing the hopes of doctors and scientists alike. It was also a terrible blow to the couple who so desperately wanted a child that they were prepared to act as human guinea pigs in this amazing experiment.
However, for Edwards and Steptoe success was not far away. They continued their experiments, in spite of growing media pressure and the clamour of groups who were unhappy with their interference in the process of reproduction. In 1977 they removed a single ripe egg from the ovary of Lesley Brown, and fertilised it with sperm from her husband. The embryo which resulted was implanted back into Lesley’s body and to everyone’s delight she became pregnant. Finally, on July 25 1978, Louise Brown was born – a healthy baby girl conceived in a glass petri dish. This was truly groundbreaking science – and also the end of years of heartache for the Browns. Both Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards were present at the birth – they must have been almost as happy as Mr and Mrs Brown! IVF as a way of overcoming infertility had arrived.