When IVF fails: where do we go next? Breakthrough advances in fertility treatment
Since the birth of the first 'test-tube' baby in 1978, the technology used for IVF has constantly been developed and improved in an attempt to improve success rates.
Since the birth of the first 'test-tube' baby in 1978, the technology used for IVF has constantly been developed and improved in an attempt to improve success rates. Perhaps one of the most significant advances was made during the 1990's when the technique of ICSI was introduced.
In this process a single sperm is injected directly into each egg collected during IVF. ICSI has enabled many men with very low sperm counts to genetically father their own children rather than resort to donor sperm. Although thousands of healthy babies have been born through ICSI, some couples fail to conceive due to sperm related abnormalities in the embryos. IMSI is a recent breakthrough in which the sperm chosen for injection are visualized under much higher magnification so that only those with strictly no abnormalities are selected. Results using IMSI are very encouraging.
Another new development is a technique in which the womb lining is primed before IVF to help the embryos implant in the womb. Recent research has shown this to be effective treatment in women who have had repeated failed IVF cycles. It is a simple procedure where a flexible catheter is used to take a small sample of the womb lining immediately before the treatment cycle starts.
Using these techniques we can now offer hope for many couples who may have given up on becoming parents after repeated failed treatment cycles.
Peter Hollands, Principal Embryologist, The Agora Gynaecology & Fertility Clinic
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