Discus the issues surrounding IVF in the treatment of infertility

IVF or In-Vitro Fertilisation is a way for infertile couples to have a child - Discus the issues surrounding IVF in the treatment of infertility introduction. Around 6,000 babies are born every year to otherwise infertile couples as a result of IVF. Though the methods used in IVF treatment often cause a lot of controversy some say it just raises people’s hopes of having a child because there is only a 15% success rate. IVF was developed in the 1970’s with the first IVF baby (Louise Brown) being born in 1978. About 30,000 Ivf babies have been born in the UK since. (bbc.co.uk/news)

There are several different ways methods of IVF, but the main process involves the women taking fertility drugs to help her produce more eggs. The eggs are then harvested and are fertilised in the lab. The woman is then given hormone drugs to prepare her womb to receive the fertilised eggs. The eggs are then placed inside the womb and a normal pregnancy hopefully follows. The process is also a big financial drain on couples. Especially if it doesn’t work.

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There are a number of other issues surrounding IVF. Humanists take the view that it is ethically acceptable if the views of the mother are pro IVF. They also say that all parties involved know exactly what is going to happen in way of the child after the procedure. Their most important view in my eyes is that the parents should also consider all other options like adoption before going for IVF, as IVF is an expensive procedure. (British Humanist Association 1997)

One of the main concerns of people is what happens to the eggs which don’t get used. These eggs may be frozen for later implantation or for scientific research. If not they are usually just discarded. I personally don’t agree with the idea of keeping them embryos for later implantation in other women. I think that if the eggs are frozen they should only ever be put into the woman that produced them. However I do think that using the embryos for scientific research is fine, as it could lead to breakthroughs in curing diseases or advances in IVF that would make the procedure more successful. The other option of discarding embryos is the worst of the three as it simply is a waste of life and money.

Doctors have warned the drugs used during IVF treatment may actually lower the chance of pregnancy. Leading fertility experts say the drugs given to increase egg production, and therefore boost the odds of conception, may also damage the eggs. The hormone based drugs may also effect the lining of the womb preventing the embryos from implanting and therefore stopping pregnancy progressing. The drugs also can cause ovarian hyper stimulation where the ovaries can’t cope with the amount of eggs released. Lord Winston, an IVF pioneer says that in the research his team have done, they found that the main risk is that the procedure causes chromosomal damage in at least half if not 70 percent of the eggs. (Daily Mail, 4/12/2006)

Couples using fertility treatment to conceive have a 30% greater chance of conceiving than they did at the start of the decade because of advances in IVF treatments. This shows that the practice of freezing embryos for medical research into IVF treatment is producing positive results with figures of around 1 in 5 successful IVF treatments. These figures where compiled by the human fertilisation and embryology authority at the end of 1998. After an initial success rate of 3.8%, IVF has now a success rate of about 20.7%. The main factors that determine the success rate of the IVF are the age of the woman, the length of time the couple have been trying to have a family and the quality of the sperm. Women aged 45 and over have only a 5 percent chance of having a baby through IVF treatment. (C.Norton, 1999)

Another big factor in IVF is the price of it. There are reports of people spending up to �60,000 on IVF. Each treatment can cost up �6,000. After nine attempts at IVF in 4 different clinics, Yasmina Wright finally got pregnant. She is now carrying twins as a result of the procedure. Yasmina, 34 and her husband, 53 were so desperate to have a child they have spent around �60,000 on fertility treatment. Some ask the question why spend so much money? The answer can be quite complicated but in most cases it is because a couple is incapable of conceiving a child so they seek the help of experts to help them on their way no matter what the cost may be. Unfortunately for some its just not meant to be and they are never able to have a child, whether it is because the couple are infertile or because of the religious beliefs of the couple. (Daily Mail, 9/1/2007)

A lot of people seem to think that it just simply isn’t worth the money that it costs when there are other options like adoption. Adoption may be cheaper and in some views more ethical but a lot of women are just keen to have a child for themselves in their own womb so they can see it as their own.

Some people use IVF so they can determine the way there baby is going to turn out i.e. the gender of the child, whether or not it suffers from any diseases and in some cases even the hair or eye colour of the baby. This in my opinion and the opinion of many others is abusing the use of IVF. Although this kind of treatment is not available in the UK couples go to other countries like the USA or other European countries to receive it.

In conclusion I think that IVF is a good method of helping infertile couples conceive a child but when it is misused it is simply unacceptable. On the whole it is becoming more widely available and with more extensive research it is becoming more and more successful.

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