Intro to In Vitro for Lesbians

by Judith E. Beckett, R.N.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is one of several methods of assisted reproduction. It was first accomplished successfully in England in 1978. Louise Brown was the first so-called “test tube baby” conceived using IVF.

IVF has been especially helpful to women who have been unable to get pregnant because their fallopian tubes are blocked or damaged or have been removed preventing their eggs from reaching the womb.

This procedure will be of interest to you if you or your partner have any of these conditions but also if you have tried other methods of donor insemination unsuccessfully. In addition, lesbian couples have recently used IVF to implant the fertilized eggs of one woman into the uterus of the other so that they are both biologically related to their baby.

EmbyroIn IVF, eggs are surgically removed from the ovary and mixed with sperm outside the body in a Petri dish (“in vitro” is Latin for “in glass”). When several embryos have formed, they are all transferred to your uterus (womb) at the same time to develop naturally. Because of this, there’s about a 32% chance you’ll have twins and a 5% chance of three or more babies. In less common instances, it is rare for five or more babies to be born , but it is not completely unheard of. The IVF procedure usually costs between $8,000 and $15,000.

Your ovaries normally produce a single egg each month, so before IVF you may be given some hormones to stimulate your ovaries to produce several at once. Just before the procedure, you should be given medication to sedate you. Then a surgeon will insert a needle through your vagina into your ovary under ultrasound guidance to surgically remove your eggs.

The fluid obtained will be examined under a microscope to be certain that eggs are present, then it will be combined in a dish with active sperm from a donor. After forty hours, your eggs will be examined to see if they have been fertilized and are beginning to grow as embryos. If so, they will be transferred to your uterus several days later through your cervix with a slender catheter. You will be asked to remain quiet for an hour or so.

For the next two weeks, you will be given more hormones to encourage the embryos to attach to the wall of your uterus and grow. When this happens, your pregnancy test will be positive. Between 28 and 35 per cent of women who try IVF conceive.

From 1985 through 2000, The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) have counted more than 139,000 births of babies conceived through IVF. In 2002, approximately one in every hundred babies born in the United States was conceived using ART.

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