In vitro fertilization (IVF) is slowly gaining popularity around the world as it continues to improve in giving couples or women who are struggling to conceive a greater chance of being a parent. The assisted reproductive technology works by fertilizing the egg with a sperm in a laboratory, and injecting it into the woman's uterus.
However, even with its high success rate, doctors are looking into the premise that the more natural pregnancies are, the healthier it could be. Studies have suggested that growing embryos in a petri dish increases the risk for genetic and health defects.
But all that could change with a new breakthrough innovation in assisted reproductive technology--it takes IVF's core idea and makes it more "natural" as it can possibly be.
The Complete Fertility Clinic in Southampton, England, is offering its patients a new IVF innovative procedure allows for "natural conception" to take place in a woman's womb rather than in a laboratory. With this technology, the woman would be able to care for an embryo in its earliest stages.
The new IVF procedure involves placing the egg and sperm cells inside a tiny capsule, which is then placed in the womb for 24 hours to allow for the embryos to develop. Conception occurs in the womb, in its natural environment. The doctors remove the device, and then they check and select the healthy embryos that will be implanted back into the woman's uterus two days after in the hopes of achieving pregnancy.
"The aim is to maximize the time spent in the body rather than in the lab. The immediate benefit is reducing exposure at this very vulnerable time of human development when genes are being switched on and off," explains Prof. Nick Macklon, of the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton and medical director of the clinic. He is hopeful that this new IVF procedure will boost IVF’s success rate even more. It makes sense as the embryos are exposed to the same environment that will house it—ergo, higher chances of a successful pregnancy.
Currently, the new IVF procedure is being offered only at the Complete Fertility Clinic and it costs £700 per cycle. Clinical trials that tested the tiny capsule device--called AneVivo and developed by the company Anecova--reports no decline in the success rate of pregnancies compared to the traditional IVF. The device itself has been deemed safe by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
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While many are that this new device will take assisted reproductive technology to further heights. Joan Tan-Garcia, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist, infertility and menopause specialist at St. Luke’s Medical Center, reminds couples that for IVF to work, the following are crucial prerequisites for an IVF: adequate number and good quality live sperm, good cervical health, a passable, unobstructed fallopian tube, and healthy eggs.
Sources: January 19, 2016. "'Natural' fertilisation device for IVF" (bbc.com) January 20, 2016. New IVF device will allow 'natural fertilization' (medicalnewstoday.com) January 19, 2016. End of the 'test tube baby' as new technique allows IVF fertilisation in womb (telegraph.co.uk)