With the recent battle between iconic singer Elton John And fashion mogul Domenico Dolce of the Dolce & Gabana designer wears, questions have risen as to how In Vitro Fertilization babies are really made with people wanting to understand why they are called synthetic even though they look and behave as normal as normal as every other kid in the street. Is it possible that there things that ordinary people who were born by normal fertilization inside the body can do that these children cannot do? We bring you all the details you need to help you decide if Dolce & Gabana were right in referring to these IVF conceived babies as synthetic babies.
What is IVF?
IVF is the process by which an egg is harvested from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized with sperm sample collected from a man in a tube in the laboratories. So, the act of getting pregnant is assisted or hastened by manually combining an egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the embryo to the uterus of the owner of the egg or to that of the surrogate mother. When it began, it seemed like another science experiment that will come and go, it was a mysterious procedure for infertility that produced what were then known as “test-tube babies.” But today, In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is practically a household word.
Unlike the simpler process of artificial insemination – where sperm sample is collected from the man and is placed in the uterus and conception happens otherwise normally — IVF involves combining eggs and sperm outside the body in a laboratory so that once the embryo or embryos forms, they are then placed back into the uterus. IVF is a complex and expensive procedure and as such, only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.
The first baby to be conceived outside the mother’s through IVF was Louise Brown, born in England in 1978. Louise Brown was born as a result of natural cycle IVF where no stimulation was made while Adriana Iliescu held the record as the oldest woman to give birth using IVF and donated egg, when she gave birth in 2004 at the age of 66, a record passed in 2006.
The physiologist who developed the treatment, Robert G. Edwards, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2010. He created a method of by-passing female infertility especially one caused by damaged Fallopian tubes.
Why Do People/Couples Resort To IVF?
With the cost of IVF, it is easy to wonder why people or couples resort to it rather than take treatments that would lead them to getting pregnant naturally. However, there are several reasons why IVF can be used and some of them includes issues where women cannot conceive due to the following reasons.
- When a woman has blocked or damaged fallopian tubes
- Women who have had their fallopian tubes removed due to complicated damages that could not be repaired.
- When a man has infertility issues that are related to low sperm count or sperm motility issues.
- When a woman is plagued with ovulation disorders, premature ovarian failure or uterine fibroid
- The presence of antibody problems that harm sperm or eggs
- The inability of sperm to penetrate or survive in the cervical mucus
- When Individuals have genetic disorder that is particular to them
- Other unexplained fertility issues.
It is equally important to remember that IVF is never the first step in the treatment of infertility. Instead, it is reserved for cases in which other methods such as fertility drugs, surgery, and artificial insemination have not been successful.
Does IVF Have Any Serious Side Effects?
Just like every medical procedure, the side effects of IVF are mild in most cases depending on body difference and body reception. However, the IVF patient would need to take a lot of rest before resuming their normal daily routine. The other side effects could include any of the following:
- Passing a small amount of fluid which may be clear or blood-tinged after the procedure
- Experiencing mild cramps
- Mild bloating in some parts of the body
- Breast tenderness
Other than these minor side effects, the bigger problems for which patients are advised to get help from the hos[ital immediately are
- Heavy vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic pains
- Blood in the urine
- A fever of over 100.5 °F (38 °C)
How Is In Vitro Fertilization Carried Out?
There are five basic steps in the IVF and embryo transfer process:
1. The doctors monitor and stimulate the development of healthy egg(s) in the ovaries of the patient.
2. Then they collect the healthy eggs when they are fully developed.
3. Next, they will secure the sperm sample from the partner or from a donor.
4. Then, Combine the eggs and sperm together in the laboratory and provide the appropriate environment for fertilization and early embryo growth.
5. And finally, they will transfer embryos into the uterus of the recipient.
Fertility medications are prescribed to stimulate egg production. This is because multiple eggs are desired as some eggs will not develop or fertilize after retrieval. Trans-vaginal ultrasound is used to examine the ovaries, and blood test samples are taken to check hormone levels.
The eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure that uses ultrasound imaging to guide a hollow needle through the pelvic cavity to remove the eggs. Medication is provided to reduce and remove potential discomfort.
The male is asked to produce a sample of sperm, which is prepared for combining with the eggs.
In a process called insemination, the sperm and eggs are mixed together and stored in a laboratory to encourage fertilization. In some cases where there is a lower probability of fertilization, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used. Through this procedure, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg in an attempt to achieve fertilization. The eggs are monitored to confirm that fertilization and cell division are taking place. Once this occurs, the fertilized eggs are considered embryos.
The embryos are usually transferred into the woman’s uterus three to five days following egg retrieval and fertilization. A catheter or small tube is inserted into the uterus to transfer the embryos. This procedure is painless for most women, although some may experience mild cramping. If the procedure is successful, implantation typically occurs around six to ten days following egg retrieval.
Risks Associated With IVF
When the process has been completed, there is still the fact that it involves potential risks as is with every fertility procedure. Some of the risks include: headaches, mood swings, abdominal pain, hot flashes, and bloating. Other than these there are other more severe risks such as
- Egg retrieval carries risks of bleeding, infection, and damage to the bowel or bladder.
- The chance of a multiple pregnancy is increased with the use of fertility treatment. There are additional risks and concerns related to multiples during pregnancy including the increased risk of premature delivery and low birth weight.
- Assisted reproductive technology (ART) involves a significant physical, financial, and emotional commitment on the part of a couple. Psychological stress and emotional problems are common, especially if in vitro fertilization (IVF) is unsuccessful.
- IVF is expensive, and many insurance plans do not provide coverage for fertility treatment. The cost for a single IVF cycle can range from at least $12,000 – $17,000.
There has been no concrete proof of any difference between the children who were conceived inside their mothers and the ones who were conceived in the laboratory so the question remains ‘Are they really synthetic babies?