What is an IVF Success Story? On 25th July 1978, the world’s first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born at Oldham General Hospital, Manchester. It is a success story built on many failures and triumphs. It is a fruit of decades of painstaking but ground-breaking research by Professor Bob Edwards and Professor Patrick Steptoe. This achievement was a significant milestone in the research in this area, which included earlier attempts, some going back to early 1950s, by many scientists the world over to achieve in vitro fertilisation in animal studies. Since then, IVF clinics in London and the world over have specialised in a range of fertility treatments.

IVF or Infertility Treatment Milestones

Since the birth of Louise Brown, there were further developments that expanded the boundaries of the field and offered more choices to the patients

The first IVF birth was a natural cycle IVF. It had its own challenges. Later developments included use of controlled ovarian stimulation using clomiphene or commonly known as Clomid. This helped in planning IVF egg collection and possibly having more than one egg for insemination.

This was helpful as this could avoid starting the treatment again in case the one of the few eggs was not suitable for insemination or did not fertilise. This led to rolling out of IVF from research laboratories to later becoming a common treatment for infertility

The Development of IVF Clinics & Treatment

In early 80’s successful frozen embryo transfer was undertaken. This was another giant leap as we could then think of avoiding risks of multiple stimulation and improve embryo utilisation.

It also paved way for fertility preservation for men and women faced with conditions that could compromise their fertility or render them permanently infertile. This then also led to planned fertility preservation, such as egg or sperm or embryo freezing. This was especially helpful for women, so that they could at least try and avoid the impact of biological age. This potentially could help them in planning pregnancy at their own will to a certain extent.

However, to be able to utilise to the full potential, the freezing techniques required improvement. This became a reality when ‘flash freezing’ or ‘gamete (eggs or sperms) or embryo vitrification’ became a reality.

IVF Clinics in the 1990’s

In early 90’s there was little help for men faced with male infertility, such as low sperm count or motility or even azoospermia (absence of sperms in semen).

Until then, the only available option was to use donor sperm. In 1992, a research team in Brussels led the development of first Intracytoplasmic sperm insemination or IVF/ICSI or ICSI.

This opened a new chapter in assisted reproductive treatments or technology (ART). Besides IVF treatment, now we could help more men suffering from low sperm count in having a genetically related child. This led to dramatic fall in artificial insemination with donor sperm.

IVF Clinics and Technology

As we entered 21st century, the assisted reproductive technology or ART treatments had another ground breaking development. Professor Bob Edwards and other scientists for decades have been thinking about possibilities of testing embryos for chromosomal or genetic normality. This led to development of preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) or Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS). This would help patients or couples in preventing transmission of genetic or chromosomal disorders to the next generation.

In 2010, Professor Bob Edwards was awarded Nobel prize of physiology or medicine. Until now, more than five million babies have been born worldwide using assisted fertility treatments such IVF or ICSI. This is indeed a true success story where science has helped humanity in overcoming natural barriers. The IVF treatment pregnancy rates per embryo transfer has increased tremendously ever since the first embryo transfer in late 70’s. Despite the IVF or IVF/ICSI success over last few decades, all fertility specialists and scientists will continue to provide IVF treatments in the best interest of their patients.

The future for assisted fertility treatments is exciting and bright. The new innovations will continue to improvise the treatment outcomes for our patients and generations to come. So, it is indeed a year of true celebration for all who worked tirelessly in making in vitro fertilisation or IVF a reality.