Fertility is the natural capability of giving life. As a measure, "Fertility Rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Infertility is a deficient fertility.
Both women and men have hormonal cycles which determine both when a woman can achieve pregnancy and when a man is most fertile.
Women's fertility peaks around the age of 23-24, and often deteriorates after 30. With a rise in women postponing pregnancy, this can create an infertility problem.
In vitro fertilization
The term in vitro is used to refer to any biological procedure that is performed outside the organism it would normally be occurring in.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF) is a technique in which egg cells are fertilised by sperm outside the woman's womb, in vitro. IVF is a major treatment in infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. The process involves hormonally controlling the ovulatory process, removing ova (eggs) from the woman's ovaries and letting sperm fertilise them in a fluid medium. The fertilised egg (zygote) is then transferred to the patient's uterus with the intent to establish a successful pregnancy. Babies conceived as a result of IVF are also known as test tube babies.
For IVF to be successful, it requires healthy ova, sperm that can fertilise, and a uterus that can maintain a pregnancy. Cost considerations generally place IVF as a treatment when other less expensive options have failed.
While the overall live birth rate via IVF in the U.S. is about 27% per cycle (33% pregnancy rate), the chances of a successful pregnancy via IVF vary widely based on the age of the woman (or, more precisely, on the age of the eggs involved). Where the woman's own eggs are used as opposed to those of a donor, for women under 35, the pregnancy rate is commonly approximately 43% per cycle (36.5% live birth), while for women over 40, the rate falls drastically - to only 4% for women over 42.
The major complication of IVF is the risk of multiple births. This is directly related to the practice of transferring multiple embryos at embryo transfer. Multiple births are related to increased risk of pregnancy loss, obstetrical complications, prematurity, and neonatal morbidity with the potential for long term damage.
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