In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is an assisted reproductive technology (ART) where an egg and a sperm are fertilised outside a woman’s body in a laboratory. It is a process that is used to overcome infertility and support surrogacy.
It was first successfully performed in 1978, when IVF gave birth to Louis Brown. Lesley Brown, his mother, had been facing infertility issues since 9 years when she took help from Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards at Dr Kershaw’s Cottage Hospital in Royton, Oldham, England.
Find a well-labelled and simple diagram of IVF below.
Well-Labelled Diagram of In-Vitro Fertilisation
The five steps of in-vitro fertilisation are as follows:
- Stimulation / Superovulation
- Retrieval of Egg and Sperm Preparation
- Egg Fertilisation
- Embryo Development
- Embryo Transfer
Normally, a woman produces one egg per month. But for IVF procedures, doctors give drugs to women to produce several eggs in a month. These eggs are examined from time to time to pick the healthiest one in the next step.
The eggs are retrieved from the female by a procedure known as transvaginal oocyte retrieval. An oocyte selection is performed to select the egg that has the highest chance of fertilisation. The sperms are extracted from semen by removing inactive cells and seminal fluid in a process called sperm washing.
The female egg and male sperm are incubated together for fertilisation. The sperm generally enters the egg and insemination is carried out, but in cases where sperm motility is low, the sperm is directly injected into the egg.
The fertilised egg divides to form an embryo. The embryo divides by cleavage to form a blastocyst (after 5-6 days of incubation).
The embryo is transferred to the uterus after 5-6 days of active division. The number of embryos that are transferred depends on the age of women and any other health concerns if present. The embryos are transferred through a tube-like apparatus called a catheter which goes up through her cervix and vagina into the womb. The embryo then sticks to the uterine lining and results in pregnancy.
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