How IVF Has Changed Over the Years

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In vitro fertilization, more commonly known as IVF, has come a long way since Louise Brown, the first child born via IVF, was born in 1978. What now makes up a growing percentage of annual births was once a project cloaked in secrecy. According to a report published by the BBC, more than five million people can now thank IVF technologies for their births.

In the early pioneering days of IVF, the founders of the science, gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Robert Edwards, admitted to attempting hundreds of embryo transfers before finally having one that took. When that first embryo did stick, Brown’s mother was told that the odds of it being totally successful were, “One in a million.”

But that embryo did stick, and a range of public opinions popped up as a result. The science and interest was so new that the Brown family had to consent to the government to allow the birth to be filmed, as a matter of evidence that the baby, created outside of the body, was actually birthed from the mother nine months later. On that day, the child underwent roughly 60 medical tests before her mother was even allowed to hold her.

Over the next decade, scientists learned how to freeze eggs and embryos, thus reducing the need for invasive egg retrieval procedures. Further advancements to this part of the IVF procedure would allow doctors to remove eggs under light sedation through ultrasound imaging as opposed to keyhole laparoscopy surgery.

Today’s science allows for a much higher success rate than in the early days of IVF, often boasting a pregnancy result in just a few attempts, with a success rate that rivals natural conception. Today, children of IVF are often looked at with little scrutiny and are rarely identifiable as being the result of medical intervention in the conception.

Researchers continue to study the science which impacts implantation and uterine lining, maintaining hope that further advancements in the field will continue to improve the odds of IVF process over the course of the next several years.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: An Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Red Wheel Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.