In 1978, the concept of fertility was irrevocably changed by technology when the first baby conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF) was born. Since then, state-of-the-art technologies and refined laboratory procedures have assisted in the births of almost eight million babies worldwide. In recent years, the technology of IVF has become even more advanced.
Fertility Technology Today
Today, IVF treatments are often paired with other advanced laboratory procedures to help improve the odds of pregnancy and live births, including:
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): With ICSI, the fertilization process is accelerated by the injection of a single sperm directly into an egg. The procedure is often recommended when there is low sperm count or motility, when egg retrieval yields a small number of eggs, or when there is a history of IVF cycles without fertilization.
- Assisted hatching: In assisted hatching, the protective shell that envelops the embryo is perforated at a single point, which creates a small opening to help the embryo hatch and improve the chances of implantation. This procedure is typically performed when patients have a history of failed IVF cycles.
- Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT): In this procedure, after sperm has successfully fertilized the eggs, the resulting embryos are left to grow for about five days. At this point, the embryonic cells have divided into over 100 cells. About five or six cells are removed from each so that the genetically healthiest embryos can be identified and implanted.
PGT is generally recommended for couples and individuals who have a high risk of passing on a genetic disorder or chromosomal abnormality, this includes older women, or those women who are experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss and couples who carry certain lethal genetic traits.
Fertility in the Future
During the past decade, there have been many research studies and experimental techniques dedicated to improving a variety of reproductive problems. Although these developments aren’t quite ready for widespread usage, they offer an interesting glimpse into what fertility treatments might entail in the future.
3D Printed Ovary Prosthetics
The ability to custom-build ovaries using 3D printing technology would potentially restore hormone and egg production for women with ovary-related infertility issues. Recently, researchers have started experimenting with structural proteins derived from pig ovaries in the hopes of developing an “ink” that can be “printed” into an implantable ovarian structure.
In Vitro Gametogenesis (IVG)
In vitro gametogenesis (IVG) is the experimental process of creating egg and sperm cells using any type of tissue (skin, muscle, etc.). The tissue cells are reverse-engineered into stem cells, which are then manipulated into becoming egg or sperm cells. If successful, this technological breakthrough could make it possible for anyone, regardless of fertility or sex, to have a child synthesized with their own DNA.
IVF and its related fertility treatments have been some of the most dazzling medical breakthroughs of the past century, and the next century promises to be just as exciting. To learn more about how current technological advancements can augment the IVF experience, contact Fertility Solutions today.