Assisted Reproductive Technologies
A look into the main reasons for infertility, how procedures evolving from recent scientific breakthroughs can combat this problem and an insight into the ethics surrounding this issue of ARTs.
Since the live birth of Louise Joy Brown (the first successful 'test-tube' baby) in 1978; we have heard massive praise, accompanied by huge controversy about the use of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and other methods of technology-assisted reproduction. This astounding method of conceiving human life and carrying to term with a healthy and successful pregnancy was pioneered by leading scientists; Robert G. Edwards and Patrick Steptoe. Since the groundbreaking development in human science, over 4 million babies have been born through IVF procedures and up to 300,000 babies are ‘created’ every year, (ESHRE)
Natural fertilization occurs, when the female gamete (i.e. the ovum) descends from the ovary, travels through the fallopian tube and is then met by a male gamete (i.e. spermatozoa). These two gametes then fuse together (fertilization) to form a zygote. The zygote then divides rapidly and goes through numerous changes. It is now known as a blastocyst. By the fourth/fifth day after fertilization, the blastocyst containing an outer wall of trophoblasts, attaches itself to the uterine wall where the placenta is formed and the embryo begins to develop. This embryo will continue to grow in the womb for 8 weeks before it becomes a foetus. Forty weeks after fertilization, the foetus is ready to be born.
Many couples trying to conceive naturally will be met with disappointment for the first attempt or even several consecutive attempts. This does not necessarily mean that any one of the partners is at fault. Conception usually occurs in 80-85% of couples within 12 months of unprotected sexual intercourse. However, approximately 15% of couples will fail to conceive during this time and can then be tested