Looking at Future Possibilities

In This Chapter

^ Undergoing IVF without all the injections ^ Pinpointing the most viable embryos to transfer ^ Helping embryos to implant

Freezing your eggs when you're young ^ Moving IVF technologies to developing countries ^ Examining IVF spin-offs r rom humble beginnings, assisted reproductive technologies have come W a long way. The birth of the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, in the United Kingdom in 1978 was the culmination of many years of research. In those days no fertility drugs were used — doctors simply waited round the clock for the right time to retrieve the one and only egg that a woman releases every month, even if this meant performing surgery (that's how eggs were retrieved then) in the middle of the night. And, if doctors did manage to catch a woman's elusive egg, getting it to fertilise and divide was another major hurdle because lab culture systems were less than perfect. So, in the early days of IVF women went through an awful lot for only a microscopic chance of having a baby.

Since then, research has resulted in great improvements in every aspect of IVF: Fertility drugs ensure that women have plenty of eggs; doctors use ultrasound to retrieve eggs safely; improved cultures allow healthy embryos to form and grow; and better transfer techniques help doctors to deliver embryos undamaged into the uterus. But the work to improve IVF outcomes is never over and scientists continue to look for new ways to improve success rates and find new treatment options for those who can't be helped with current techniques.

In this chapter, I describe some recent developments and emerging areas of research that hopefully will help deliver improved IVF outcomes in the future.

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