For as long as the human race has been in existence, infertility has been a problem. In the book of Genesis, there is a story of two sisters: Leah and Rachel. Leah was plain and unloved, but Rachel was beautiful and highly desired. God made it possible for Leah to bear children. However, Rachel remained barren. When Rachel was finally able to conceive, she declared, "God has taken away my disgrace by giving me a son." (Brown). Rachel believed that infertility was a disgrace, an idea that many infertile women have shared over the centuries.
In the past we have seen many examples of ignorance to the causes of infertility. In some ancient cultures, men were allowed to hang their wives if they did not produce offspring. The husband of Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI of France suffered from male infertility. However, the people of France blamed Marie Antoinette referring to her as the "Austrian Whore". The French were so callus as to produce pamphlets instructing her on how to properly perform (Brown). Infertile women today suffer the same sort of indignities at the hands of well-meaning friends and relatives.
Infertility treatments assist infertile couples to produce biological children. While adoption is a viable option for couples that are infertile, many would like to have biological children. There is nothing like that fantastic moment when a mother holds their child for the first time. It is unexplainable why a mother would be so willing to undergo the pain of childbirth. Nevertheless, for many infertile couples, they long to be a part of wondrous experience.
Few people are able to identify with a couple undergoing infertility treatments unless; they themselves have been through similar circumstances. For female patients, the frustration is often elevated when one of their friends has become pregnant. The patient is torn between being happy for their friend and somewhat of a jealous sadness for themselves.
In normal ovulation, which occurs in the female body, hormones are released which stimulate the different processes necessary for a successful pregnancy. Initially, the hormone FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) leads to the development of the follicle and the egg. Because of the increased levels of FSH, excess estrogen is released into the bloodstream. When the estrogen levels in the bloodstream increase, it triggers a surge of the hormone LH (luteinizing hormone) and causes the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) to thicken. The following graph shows how the hormone levels rise and fall during a normal 28-day cycle.
(Graph from ARC)
The LH surge triggers ovulation, which is the process by which the follicle bursts, releasing the egg into the fallopian tube (ARC). The following illustration represents the ovulation process over the same 28-day cycle.
(Illustration from ARC)
Once ovulation has occurred, the egg will travel through the fallopian tube to the uterus. This process can take anywhere from three to five days. During this time, if the egg unites with a sperm in the fallopian tube, it will become fertilized and attach itself to the endometrium when it arrives in the uterus and pregnancy will ensue. If fertilization does not occur, the proper hormones will be released to break down the endometrium and menstruation will occur (Encarta). The first step in treating infertility is to determine which partner is infertile....