Reproductive medicine is a branch of medicine that concerns the male and the female reproductive systems. It constitutes a variety of diagnostic methods that can be used to discover the reasons for involuntary human infertility problems.
Diseases related to human infertility either simple or complex one can be examined and treated using several techniques. The diagnostic methods used include both invasive and non-invasive methods. Invasive methods like laparoscopy and non-invasive methods like ultrasonography.
It has also allowed the development of artificial reproductive techniques (ARTs). Some common ARTs are IVF, artificial insemination, embryo transfer, etc. reproductive medicine addresses sexual issues like sexual education, puberty, birth control, reproductive system diseases, and sexual dysfunction. In women, it includes medicines for mensuration, ovulation, pregnancy, etc.
Types of reproductive treatments:
- ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION
Artificial insemination simply means the direct insertion of man’s sperm in a woman’s cervix, fallopian tube, or uterus. The method used to do so is “intrauterine insemination”.
The process of artificial insemination starts after collecting the sperm sample either by one’s partner or the donor sperm. The fertility doctor implants it directly into the uterus. For best results, insemination occurs soon after ovulation because fertility is at its peak at this time.
People with certain medical situations can get the help of artificial insemination:
- Couples who can produce healthy eggs and sperms but due to some medical conditions like erectile dysfunction they are unable to have intercourse.
- Artificial insemination can help in problems of women with cervical factor infertility.
- It can also help in some cases of endometriosis where the womb lining starts growing outside the womb.
- It is used in cases where a man is not able to produce enough sperm or his sperm is not able to move towards the egg effectively.
- OVULATING INDUCTION
Ovulating Induction is a reproductive treatment that uses medicines to regulate the ovaries for the development of the egg or to increase the number of eggs produced by the ovaries in a single menstrual cycle to increase the probability of developing pregnancy.
This treatment is used in cases where a woman is not able to ovulate by herself. A woman may have ovulating problems because of stress, weight fluctuations, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), any disorder in pituitary or thyroid glands, and high levels of prolactin.
Ovulation treatment induces ovulation by use of two main drugs:
- Clomiphene or Clomid tablets – these medications increase the production of a hormone called FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) by pituitary glands which stimulate the follicles and further the growth of eggs.
- Gonadotrophins – this medication is given by way of injections. Their core ingredient is also a follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
- DONOR CONCEPTION
Donor conception refers to use to eggs, sperm, or embryos or both eggs and sperms from the donors for conception (developing pregnancy) when one or both partners in a couple are infertile or have any fertility disorder.
Donor sperm is used in cases:
- No or unhealthy production of sperm in male
- Where there is a high risk of transferring any genetic disorder to the child
- A single woman wants a child or in a homosexual relationship
Donor eggs are used in cases:
- The woman cannot or produce low-quality eggs may be due to age or premature ovarian failure.
- A woman has various miscarriages
- A woman having a high risk of passing a genetic disorder to the child.
- Gamete intrafallopian tube transfer (GIFT)
GIFT is another kind of reproductive treatment. This treatment involves the extraction of woman’s eggs, mixing them with the sperm. The mixed sperm and eggs are immediately placed into the fallopian tube.
The core difference between GIFT and in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the place of eggs and sperm fertilization. In GIFT, fertilization takes place in the fallopian tube whereas fertilization in IVF takes place in a laboratory.
The procedure followed in Gamete intrafallopian tube transfer:
- Initially, an x-ray is done to determine the existence of a fallopian tube. A laparoscope is also used to ensure there is no scar outside the fallopian tube.
- Eggs are then extracted from the ovaries of a woman. On the same day, the sperm sample is also received and mixed.
- The mixture and sperm and eggs are then transferred into the fallopian tubes.
- After transfer, the woman is prescribed specific medication to develop healthy uterine lining to implant the fertilized egg.
- Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT)
Preimplantation genetic testing is a method used to identify the genetic disorder (abnormal chromosomes) before transferring them into the uterus. Generally, one or more embryos are sent for genetic testing and only healthy ones are transferred into the uterus, where they may attach to the uterine lining to develop pregnancy.
PGD (Preimplantation genetic diagnosis) and PGS (preimplantation genetic screening) are two techniques available for avoiding the risk of a child having a genetic disorder. PGD is done for someone who has or is the carrier of a genetic disorder and PGS is done for one with repeated miscarriages, someone whose ovaries are not working well or someone with multiple failed infertility treatments.
The embryo is tested at different stages of growing using different techniques like fluorescent in situ hybridization (FSH), microarray, and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
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Is the egg retrieval painful?
During egg retrieval, you will be sedated and given medication so that you don’t’ feel the pain. After the surgery/procedure, you may feel cramps, soreness, or fullness.
Is bleeding expected after egg retrieval?
After egg retrieval, vaginal bleeding/spotting is common. It is similar to bleeding in periods. In case of excess bleed, you should contact the doctor immediately.
How long do I have to stay in the hospital during and after the procedure?
IVF Procedure does not require any hospitalization. It only requires frequent visits from time to time.
How soon can I return to normal life after IVF?
Once the embryo transfer is done, you can resume your normal life. You may experience cramps because there might be a minor swelling in the ovaries. Stick to a mild routine and avoid exertion as it may affect your chances of getting pregnant.