One of the first scientific developments pertaining to fertility was the discovery of the sperm in semen back in 1677.
IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) was the first development in assisted reproduction. The use of this procedure in animals dates back to the fourteenth century when Arabs used it to breed stallions. Lazarro Spallanzani is known as the first to use the technique to breed dogs in late 1784.Subsequently, in 1793, John Hunter became the first person reported to achieve a successful human pregnancy using IUI- a process where in the best quality sperm is separated from the sluggish lot. The sperm is then introduced into the womb around the time of ovulation, later resulting in pregnancy. This even today, remains an excellent solution for male infertility.
At the turn of the 19th century, as science progressed, doctors began to explore further, the matter of infertility, and uncovered the basic scientific details of human conception.
Here is a brief chronology:
1827: scientists first discovered the existence of ova, or eggs, in the female body.
1843: scientists learned that conception occurs when a sperm enters an ovum.
1884: the first successful artificial insemination when Dr. William Pancoast treated a couple’s infertility by secretly inseminating the woman with sperm.
1920s and 30s: the hormones progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone were all identified, and their roles in reproduction and pregnancy were closely studied.
1944: Dr. John Rock of Harvard reported that the first US fertilization of human eggs in a laboratory dish (in vitro) had occurred in his lab.
1978: First test-tube baby Louise Brown is born.
Today, IVF has resulted in the birth of over 8 million babies, providing relief to childless couples, with the promise of helping them spill out the “good news”
IVF is named after the Latin word ‘vitro’ which means ‘glass’ . It is performed in petri-dishes where eggs are mixed with fresh sperm to create embryos. The best quality embryos are then chosen to pass through the cervix, and then into the womb for implantation to occur.
Dr Rajalaxmi Walavalkar, Consultant at Cocoon Fertility says. “IVF has evolved thanks to the work of many scientists. In many ways, it is one of science’s greatest gifts to humankind. It is a proven assisted reproductive technique today and has given hope to many couples beset with fertility problems.”
Developments have continued unabated. In 1987, the use of donor eggs became publicly available. 1987 also saw the first Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) procedure , the sperm is physically injected into the egg. It is performed under a microscope. The first successful birth resulting from ICSI occurred in 1992.
IVF itself has become more and more precise and versatile, thanks to developments such as egg freezing, embryo transfers, Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS) and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) etc. “Modern day IVF has evolved to treat conditions which can obstruct fertility both in men and women such as endometriosis, male factor infertility, ovulatory dysfunctions, unexplained infertility so on and so forth”, says Dr Anagha Karkhanis, Founder of Cocoon Fertility. The beauty of an IVF treatment is that the whole process of fertilisation happens outside the woman’s body.