Assisted reproduction: what it consists of and what are its techniques

Assisted reproduction encompasses a series of medical techniques and treatments to facilitate pregnancy. It is about the ways to get fertilization, as a method to treat infertility, and give a child to couples who want it.

There are several ways to do it, though in all there is a sperm and an ovum mixed to give as a result an embryo that will be inseminated in the woman's body. We explain a little more about this way of bringing a baby into the world.

Types or techniques of assisted reproduction

Couples with difficulties conceiving can opt for one of the assisted fertilization techniques.

There are different treatments or techniques to achieve fertilization in a laboratory. In short, there are three. All of them with different results, advantages and disadvantages. These are the procedures.

Artificial insemination

This technique consists of depositing a semen sample in the female reproductive system. Its objective is to enhance the fertilization capacity of sperm with improvements made in a laboratory.

The woman must have at least one fallopian tube that produces eggs. Within this procedure there are two types: conjugal insemination, that is, of the husband, and that of a donor.

To do this, the number of eggs must be increased by stimulating the ovaries with medications.. The sample obtained from the man must have a large number of good quality spermTherefore, sexual abstinence for at least three days is recommended.

Likewise, this sample undergoes a sperm training treatment, to guarantee its quality to the maximum. When the sample is ready, it is inseminated with a special catheter in the cervix, the catheter goes into the uterus and the trained semen is deposited. Then the catheter is removed.

The procedure can be used if there is a decrease in the number of sperm or alterations in their mobility or morphology, as well as in malformations in the male reproductive system due to some trauma. Its uses go as far as ejaculatory disorders and alterations in the semen.

Read also: How to improve male fertility

It can also be used for problems on the part of women. Such is the case of an alteration of the cervical mucus, the presence of antisperm antibodies, the narrowing of the cervix or vaginal dysfunctions.

Fertilization in vitro (IVF)

This method consists of reproducing the fertilization process in a specialized laboratory. To do this, the eggs and sperm are removed and they are kept in a suitable environment to produce fertilization.

It is usually done when there is poor semen quality, blocked tubes, severe endometriosis, and infertility of unknown cause.

It is done with previous studies of each couple; then there is an ovarian stimulation with hormones, the extraction of oocytes, the insemination of those oocytes with the sperm in a laboratory and the culture to evaluate if fertilization has occurred. Two or six days later, the embryos are transferred to the woman's uterus.

Also read: What is in vitro fertilization?

ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Injection)

With the help of a microinjection, a sperm is introduced into the egg in order to facilitate fertilization. It is used as an aid to fertilization in vitro and it is used when the semen is of poor quality.

Mature oocytes are suitable for microinjection. Using a special microscope, a single sperm is taken with a microinjection pipette and inserted into the egg.

Advantages of assisted reproduction

Assisted reproduction offers the possibility of being parents to single people, of the same gender or to couples with conception problems.

Depending on the circumstance, there are numerous advantages of assisted reproduction. The main one is to provide the possibility for single people to have children, as well as couples of the same gender.

Another advantage is the possible planning to avoid inherited diseases through preimplantation genetic diagnosis. It is a set of procedures aimed at knowing the genetic characteristics of the embryos obtained with fertilization. in vitro to transfer the best to the uterus.

Disadvantages of assisted reproduction

Assisted reproduction is often expensive. Depending on the methods used complications may appear, as in fertilization in vitro (IVF).

Among the main complications is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which occurs when the abdomen becomes distended and the ovaries increase in size. It can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Painless vaginal bleeding may also occur after follicular aspiration or embryo transfer.

By obtaining and transferring more than one embryo, there may be the possibility of a multiple pregnancy as well as damage to organs near the ovaries, such as the bladder, intestine, or blood vessels. Regarding the risk of miscarriage, with IVF there is a 12 or 17% probability.

In the case of complications from artificial insemination, colic pain, scanty bleeding, nausea and vomiting, or a pelvic infection may occur. when there is a history of blockage in the fallopian tubes, or if there is an active cervico-vaginal infection.

Added to this are the bioethical debates regarding the issue of the selection of "fit" and "unfit" embryos, as well as sperm donations that can come from a dead person.

In any case, assisted reproduction helps people and couples with problems conceiving, putting a point in favor of scientific advances.