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Since the first successful live birth via in vitro fertil-ization (IVF) in 1978, more than 8 million children have been born by IVF, the process in which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. IVF gives hope to thousands of individuals and couples wanting to start a family thanks to the advances of multiple procedures. 

Implantation of embryos

Implantation of embryos illustration

Dating back to the early 1980s, hourly blood tests were the norm and laparoscopic egg retrievals were much more invasive. Today, performing transvaginal egg retrievals makes the IVF process instantly easier for patients and eliminates the need for a general anesthetic when collecting and harvesting eggs. 

Blastocyst transfers

Blastocyst transfers illustration

Embryo freezing has also improved with new vitrification techniques. Thawing of blastocysts (embryos that have developed in the lab for five or six days) have a 98%–99% thaw survival rate. Therefore, patients who create multiple blastocysts in one cycle, can freeze them and use them in the future, allowing families the possibility of having multiple pregnancies from a single IVF cycle.

Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT)

PGT illustration

More recently, PGT of embryos gives physicians more information about their genetic make-up. This is a significant development given that successful implantation depends on two major factors: the quality of the embryo and the internal environment of the uterus. PGT has given physicians the ability to screen out genetically abnormal embryos. Amazingly, when a genetically normal blastocyst is created via IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), it gives patients and/or couples a 65% chance of a live birth while lowering their miscarriage rate to approximately 10%.

I’m thrilled to be part of a field that continues to push society’s understanding of what constitutes a family. With the use of donor eggs, donor sperm, and/or surrogacy, many single men and women, as well as LBGTQ individuals and couples, have achieved their dreams of creating families.

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