Not so long ago, subfertility was a damaging blow to any couple and the social stigma and pressure around it eventually lead to an unhappy family life. However, the field of fertility treatment has witnessed many breakthroughs of late and subfertility has now become an easily manageable condition all around the world.
Advances in medical sciences related to imaging
Ultra Sound Scanning – It uses a high-frequency sound wave which reflects off or penetrates body structures at different degrees. This difference in penetration is used to obtain a computer-generated image in real time. USS is widely used in the field of fertility.
CT/MRI Scanning – CT scanning uses X-rays while MRI uses electromagnetic radiation. Based on the feedback received from the relative penetration of these rays, a computer generates a detailed 3D image of the scanned structures. CT/MRI scans are used extensively for cancer detection.
Advancement in science & technology related to chemical analysis
Disturbance of chemical reactions in the body is one of the root causes of illness among human beings. With advances in medical sciences, assessments of biochemical operations in the body have become more detailed, accurate and easier.
For instance, ovulation can be detected in fertility centers by using a set of biochemical tests. LH, or Luteinizing Hormone, in the body is the indicator used to detect ovulation. By observing the body’s LH levels, the exact window of ovulation can be predicted with good accuracy.
Further, bedside tests to detect pregnancy and ovulation have been produced in the form of urine strips. These are chemically imbued sticks which are available over the counter and are extremely easy to use. Using these strips, a couple can easily identify when the woman is ovulating and time sexual intercourse accordingly. Similarly, the analysis of the seminal fluid of the male partner can also help detect male infertility, which is a less talked about but equally important issue.
Advances in medical sciences in treatment modalities
IUI – Intra uterine insemination is the process by which a semen sample obtained from the male partner is introduced into the uterus of the female. The sample is processed and concentrated. Subsequently, with the use of a special apparatus known as an IUI catheter, the sperm is introduced into the uterus. This is timed with ovulation which itself is induced by drug therapy.
IVF-ICSI – In-vitro fertilization and intra cytoplasmic sperm injection are among the most innovative techniques used in fertility treatment. The techniques are based on the principle of fertilizing an egg using a sperm but in a laboratory setting. The fertilized egg is then introduced into the uterine cavity of the female for implantation.
Egg/Sperm Banks – Preserving and storing sperm and ova for use at a later stage is now quite popular among couples and individuals alike. The sperm or eggs are stored in a controlled environment and kept in stasis. They can be thawed out and fertilized as and when required.
PGD/Karyomapping – These involve the preimplantation diagnosis of genetic illnesses passed down from the family. Any embryos with detected genetic defects can be discarded so that only genetically sound embryos are implanted.
Gestational Surrogacy – This involves the use of the couples’ own or donor sperm and/or eggs which are fertilized through IVF and implanted in the uterus of a surrogate mother. The surrogate mother carries the fetus to its full term and on birth, hands over the child to the intended parents.