Thanks to advances in reproductive health technology, babies can now be created in test tubes. Naturally, childbearing involves a man having sexual relations with a woman, who becomes pregnant after one sperm fertilizes the egg.
A child is born nine months later. However, some couples attempt but fail to conceive naturally. Frustrated, some couples, particularly in Africa, turn to herbal medicine and witchdoctors for answers, because infertility is sometimes associated with witchcraft and generational curses.
In fact, infertility is often acknowledged as one of the most debilitating and frustrating problems that modern couples face.
According to a 2018 study titled “Infertility in Uganda: a missed chance to increase reproductive knowledge and health,” 53% of respondents would rather develop HIV/AIDS than live with infertility, according to the study.
This illustrates the pain that infertility may bring to a childless marriage. Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) are increasingly having an impact on fertility management as technology advances.
Every day in my area of work, I am confronted with a variety of difficult concerns about fertility management. “I have heard that a baby can grow in a test tube; how possible is that?” someone recently emailed me.
This person, who I later learned had been in a childless marriage for 14 years, was ideally inquiring about IVF (IVF).
IVF (in vitro fertilization) is one of the most common fertility treatments (pregnancy without sex). It was first used in Uganda in 2003, with the first IVF baby (often known as a “test tube baby”) born in October 2004 at Mulago National Referral Hospital.
Dr Edward Tamale-Sali, owner of Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre in Kampala, and Belgian Prof Peter Plateau performed the IVF process.
Meanwhile, Louis Brown, the world’s first “test tube baby,” was born in Manchester, United Kingdom, in 1978, thanks to the tireless efforts of P. Steptoe and RG. Edwards. IVF has resulted in the birth of more than three million infants.
Infertile couples are already under a lot of psychological stress before they start IVF therapy, which exacerbates their situation. As a result, counseling becomes an important and fundamental component of treatment.
Most women are unable to conceive because their fallopian tubes have been blocked as a result of infections or other issues. This means that sperm and egg will not be able to meet for fertilization if the fallopian tube is damaged or obstructed.
As a result, such a couple will want scientific assistance to conceive utilizing IVF. During this operation, the woman is given medication to encourage the eggs in her ovaries to grow and mature so that they can be removed from her body and taken to a laboratory to be treated by an embryologist.
The guy gives a sample of his sperm, from which excellent spermatozoa are identified and retrieved in order to fertilize the eggs. Oocytes are detected and washed in fresh culture fluid before being put into the incubation plate under a stereozoom microscope.
Incubation takes three to four hours to finish. Meanwhile, the processing of the sperm has been completed. Semen is cleaned after it has been tested for motility, amount, and quality.
The eggs are then placed in a test tube or petri dish, where they combine with the sperm before being fertilized under the supervision of a clinical embryologist.
Before being delivered to the womb, the created embryos are incubated for two to three days to confirm fertilization by examining pronuclei.
As a result, the baby’s successful voyage begins from the caring hands of the embryologist to the loving womb of the mother under the care of a gynecologist, as Dr Sandhya Saoji would describe it.
IVF was originally intended for women who were unable to conceive naturally owing to a variety of circumstances. Today, any couple can choose to have children without having sex, and this is perfectly normal because science has proven it.
Simply expressed, IVF is most helpful when natural conception has failed or when the sex of the baby is identified before the pregnancy using Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis.