Whenever fertility is concerned, there is always a multitude of stats, theories, and evidence to back up almost every argument. It is in our human nature to disagree and contend with one another; it’s what sets us apart from the organisms of the world. Our confrontational make-up and constructive hunger for our passions really are something to be proud of.
The passion for life boils in all of us and it is this need to create and exist that fittingly leads us to the subject of fertility. For years, since the first ‘test-tube’ baby back in 1978, scientists, religious figures, and contemporaries have been debating a subject which can only be described as a ‘miracle’.
Our Life Blood
In Vitro Fertilisation has provided us with the power to create life. As revolutionary a concept, it is, IVF treatment comes bound with a number of scientific and ethical complexities. From the ‘ability to play God’ to the petri dish of scientific experimentation, nothing can take away the advancements that we have made in order to bring happiness to those without the fertile capacity.
But in recent years, it is more the effects of the different types of IVF treatment which have created the biggest stir. At the forefront of any procedure should be the short and long term safety of those concerned, in this case, both the mother and her unborn child.
Is IVF safe in the long term?
Whilst modern-day practiced IVF treatment is at its most advanced and sophisticated, it is always worth considering the differences in such procedures. Most notably, the use and ‘cited’ dependence on ovarian stimulation drugs to help in the process of fertilization.
With the long term effects of IVF still relatively unknown and unproven due to its short existence, what many scientists conclude is that the emphasis should not be the effects that ovarian stimulation drugs have on a woman and their children, but more how can we develop and advance more natural practices.
Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome
It is on this subject of protecting patients that we can consider the effects of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, a complication that can be caused by the use of fertility medication. It is associated with the injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) which is used in the induction of final oocyte maturation and triggering their release.
Whilst symptoms range from the mild – nausea, diarrhea, and fullness – to the more severe – extreme weight gain, respiratory pains, and abdominal aches – the complications often occur due to the presence of multiple luteinized cysts within the ovaries due to the presence of hCG.
This causes hypertrophy within the ovary as fluids shift and large amounts of estrogens, progesterone, and cytokines are released, resulting in the risk of ovarian tension and rupture.
Whilst the majority of cases can be resolved within weeks, the strain, discomfort, and risk to the woman’s health is something that cannot be dismissed. In some cases proving fatal, urgent, and direct action and developments must be explored.
What’s Being Done?
With the advances of mild stimulation and natural cycle IVF treatments in recent years, institutions such as the International Society for Mild Approaches in Assisted Reproduction (ISMAAR) are making huge steps in devising more natural, less drug-induced methods whilst encouraging a high success rate.
With emotional and financial benefits for both the patient and health clinics, the focus on moving away from drug use in ovarian stimulation shows that steps are being taken. With a better understanding of ovarian physiology, maturation, and follicular growth, ovarian stimulation can begin to be directed at the natural menstrual cycle of women rather than dependant on drugs.
Like any medical breakthrough, funding and research are imperative in order to change the medical rule book. One thing that will stay the same, however, is the importance of protecting the woman and their children from unnecessary and uncomfortable procedures.