Saturday, October 11, 2014

IVF is not artificial

Many patients are still scared of doing IVF because they think it is an “artificial” process . They worry that babies made in the lab by artificial processes will be weak or abnormal. Others ( who are a little more sophisticated) are concerned that since the embryos are being artificially inserted into the uterus by the doctor, they need to rest in bed after the transfer, because they embryo may “fall out” if they do not do so.

There are still many myths and misconceptions about IVF, especially about the care which patients need to take after they get pregnant. Many of these get propagated thanks to bulletin boards and online forums.  It's quite easy to understand why these myths are so prevalent – they make a lot of intuitive sense. After all, if the doctor is putting the embryos into the uterus through the cervix , doesn’t it follow that the same embryos can easily fall out through the cervix when the woman coughs or sneezes or strains ?

This is why there are so many precautions women are advised to take after the embryo transfer . Some of these come from the doctor, while others are advised by friends and family members – or other IVF patients ! They want to maximize their chances of success and want to ensure that nothing bad happens to their embryos .

We need to keep on reminding our patients that no special precautions are needed after IVF – there’s no need to create a list of do's and don'ts . Nothing they can do can reduce their chances of success – or increase them either.

We remind patients that ART does not stand for artificial reproductive technology – it stands for assisted reproductive technology. This means that when we do IVF, we are simply assisting nature ! IVF only allows us to perform in the IVF lab what is not happening naturally in the bedroom for couples who suffer from infertility.

While it’s true that eggs and sperm are being fertilized in vitro in the lab under our supervision, all we are trying to do is to mimic the natural in vivo process ! Instead of it happening in the fallopian tube ( as it does for normal fertile couples), it is now happening in the test tube in the IVF lab, that’s all.

Also, once the  embryo has been transferred into the uterus, it doesn’t matter whether it spent three days in the fallopian tube , or three days in the lab ! Once the embryos implant, the pregnancy is just like any other normal pregnancy. Once the embryos are in the uterus, they follow the completely natural biological process of in utero implantation, which means that the final common pathway remain the same. You can think of IVF as a technique which allows us to take a slight detour, in order to bypass  the obstacles which the eggs and sperm of infertile couples encounter in the bedroom .

Want more information about IVF ? Please send me your medical details by filling in the form at so I can guide you sensibly !

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