In Vitro Fertilization
At the outset, IVF is an abbreviation for In Vitro Fertilization, which is the process through which an ovum is fertilized by a sperm outside the human body. This facilitates the initial development of the embryo in a laboratory test tube in place of the fallopian tube. In cases where ordinary conception methods fail to work, IVF is considered a considerable treatment for infertile women. Success of IVF depends entirely on factors such as the health of the ovum and its sperm counterpart, the sperm’s capability to induce fertilization, and a uterus able to sustain the pregnancy. This modernly practiced ability to transfer genetic material present in the two reproductive cells complements incessant research in the field of biology. Moreover, it supplements tech advancements because through these progressions, equipment useable in the critical process have been availed. IVF markedly depicts a scientific breakthrough illustrated by man’s earned capacity to withhold genetic DNA material in his hands and use it for the purpose of fertilization outside its normal host. This revolution in biology has impacted the world today in various ways all described in depth in this analysis.
The procedure is set on track by carefully monitoring a woman’s process of ovulation so as to be able to harvest the ovum or ova (egg/eggs) from their ovaries using a transvaginal technique. Since only one ovum is produced every month, administration of hormones, either through injection or oral form, helps stimulate the ovary to produce more than one egg at a time. However, because of the noteworthy dangers of such escalated hormonal activity in the female body, this procedure is conducted under sedation that ensures the subject remains unharmed. Attainment of the female ova marks the attainment of the woman’s DNA withheld within the fertile egg. Sperm is then introduced to fertilize the ovum in a carefully prepared medium, which is in most cases a laboratory incubator. The incubator is kept in a controlled environment of body temperature for two to five days to allow for the egg and the sperm to fuse and create an embryo. In other words, this period allows for the male and female DNA to integrate in a similar mannerism as it would have taken place in the woman’s body. The fertilized egg, known as a zygote, is then returned to the uterus of the particular patient and successfully, this becomes an established pregnancy. This ability to artificially combine DNA’s remains an astonishing factor not because of the tiny size characterizing the sperm and the ovum, but because of how they are garnered from the human body and fused in a tube yet performing so well.
Where a woman’s natural ovulation cycle is monitored and a naturally selected ovum collected for fertilization, this is known as natural cycle IVF because it surpasses the use of drugs. Presently, World Health Organization presents a live birth rate of 1.3% for women between the ages of 40-43 who rely on natural IVF. This method has proven more reliable to women whose ovaries do not seem to be responsive to drugs because the continued monitoring sidesteps possible unprompted ovulation. Unlike natural IVF that takes almost 2 years, mild IVF consumes shorter durations of almost 6 months because stimulating drugs are incorporated in the procedure allowing the ovary to release 2-7 eggs at a time (Aboulghar & Rizk, 38). This heightens the chances of getting the ovum without damaging the DNA it carries inside.
IVF could be used to conquer inabilities to procreate following to fallopian tube complications. It also offers a solution to male individuals faced with infertility especially in sperm quality and sperm count. In this case, injections called intracytoplasmic sperm injections are used whereby the sperm cells are infused directly to the ovum. It is mostly considered when the sperm cannot penetrate the egg in ease or when the sperm numbers are lower than normal. This technology also widens limitations because it is not necessarily the donor of the egg who has to carry it during the term. IVF offers the option for women past menopause to carry the pregnancy to maturity.
Factors that influence the DNA configuration of the sperm or the ovum prior to the actual harvest and may result to failure of the IVF procedure include stress, smoking, alcohol or caffeine intake, and the number of embryos in the treatment cycle amongst others. Surprisingly, intake of alcohol or caffeine but in small amounts has been found to increase the overall success rate (Fauser, Andersen, Nargund, Norman, Tarlatzis & Boivin, 98). On the other hand, the IVF procedure has illustrated several challenges and risks both to the participating patients and the DNA within their sperms and ovum. For instance, during stimulation there may be occurrence of hyper stimulation syndrome that causes swelling and pain in the ovaries. There is risk of compound pregnancies occurring and also ectopic pregnancies that call for instantaneous destruction of the fetus.
Ethically, IVF is not considered to be a breakthrough in today’s life. In support of this there has been a few cases of laboratory mix-ups whereby a mother ends up receiving the wrong embryo during transfer. The fusing of DNAs in scientific mediums fails to guarantee the participants that the re-implanted zygote carries their particular genetic setup free of impurities. This once happened to a woman who was implanted with another woman’s embryo and was later notified of this after birth. In normal procedures there wouldn’t be such cases because only the couple involved provides the necessities for fertilization to take place. Therefore, there is no possibility for a woman to have any other fetus develop in her uterus but her own.
The other concern that is affecting ethics is that now people can screen out particular traits through the use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. It was proven when a deaf British couple requested to have a baby, deaf as themselves, using the IVF procedure. This is far more troublesome than of benefit because the normality of balance of traits will no longer exist with IVF taking its place in the world today. This encircles the stripping of certain genes from the DNA of the parents prior to the fertilization process allowing the birth of hypothetically flawless babies. In the case that this advancement allows genetic reconfiguration fully in the future, children would then be given the traits only wanted by the parents by eliminating the negative ones regardless of them appearing in the father’s or mother’s DNA.
This also creates confusion because children born from IVF, especially of donor parents, are not able to trace their parents or any relatives. Therefore, they live all their lives knowing no one related to them but their “foster family” and this is not the kind of life anyone would want for their child. This has led to creation of websites connecting biological children to common donors. It has also led to creation of new laws in some countries that donors are not paid and they cannot be anonymous. Nonetheless, many people are not against the ability to artificially create pregnancies, rather, they fear what the people in the industry would be willing to do for profits and fame. For instance, there was a physician in California who transferred a total of 12 embryos to a single female body. This clearly shows the lengths to which people are will reach even if it means endangering the life of a person for their experiments. During its invention years it was to be a last resort, but now it is a first alternative and a great injustice to women.
Naturally menopause is a barrier to conception past a certain age. With IVF, women can get pregnant even in their old age. Although the ova will be attained from a donor, the implanted zygote in their uterus gives them an emotional link with the child but not a genetic link. This case is mostly reported when the woman’s partner is younger, but in need of a child. Therefore, the field of science is trying endlessly to alter the normal balance of nature which might end up causing more harm than good. The attempts to further how scientists fuse the DNA material by using more than one sperm in a single ovum may be fatal not only to the zygote, but also to the mother carrying it in her womb. In some cases IVF also strips children of their basic rights especially when the child is raised either by a single parent, or a homosexual parent. This denies them the feeling of having a normal and complete family as they are growing up. The church opposes any kind of IVF because just like contraceptives, it ends the purpose of procreation in the act of marriage with its purpose of unity. In place of IVF, the church gives the option of adoption for couples in which one partner is infertile.
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms and they have the ability to divide through a process known as mitosis and differentiate into distinct and specialized cells while maintaining a similar DNA. They can also self-renew and produce more stem cells in the case that there is ultimate need. Research has linked embryonic stem cells to embryos and they could be derived from the epiblast tissue of the inner cell mass of a blastocyst. A blastocyst is an early stage embryo four to five days old and consisting approximately 50-150 cells. The embryonic stem cells can develop into each of the more than 200 cell types in an adult body when sufficient and necessary stimulation is introduced for a particular cell type. They only give rise to the germ layers ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm during development. The primitive stem cells found in the organs of fetuses are called fetal stem cells. Successfully, this will facilitate the harvest of DNA right from its primary form rather than yielding it from the ovary. This will further selective genetics because the genes will be more exposed facilitating easier selection of the preferred traits.
There is a big difference between an embryo and a baby both scientifically and in reality. Once there has been a success in fertilization and the zygote develops to an embryo under observation, it is then transferred back to the uterus. After that, the doctors have no control of what happens to the implant because all they can do is offer support for the remaining part of the procedure. Therefore, its attachment to the uterine wall and the subsequent development to a fetus is left to nature to take its course. The body itself may reject an implantation due to subtle genetic defects that have not yet been cleared up scientifically. In reality it is perceived as nature taking its course rather than giving birth to an abnormal baby such that it prevents the embryo from implanting. Even though not all are successful those that do develop into fetuses and after the 9 month period are birthed as full grown babies. Therefore, the difference between a zygote and a baby is not the genetic composition but the level of development (Steinbock, 26). In a baby, all distinct features appear visible and working perfectly but in a zygote, these features are still in the process of differentiation into distinctive cell types and development into a fetus.
This topic is of exceptional interest because it has managed human contact with DNA not in form of blood samples, but in the primary form. It is from fertilization that the father’s and mother’s DNAs fuse together to create a mutual combination of both. With humans accessing the DNA before fertilization, they have the ability to strip them of all imperfections and perhaps add more traits that are more desirable such as athletic potential. This may be the next step towards the suppression of undesired genes such as cancer and HIV/AIDS. Therefore, In Vitro Fertilization should not be considered a setback but a tremendous revolution in the ability to control DNA content through selective genetics.
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