Some women can be given hormone treatments to help them get pregnant.
Some individuals don't produce enough follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), so their eggs do not mature. This means no eggs are produced and the women cannot get pregnant.
The hormones FSH and LH can be injected or given in tablet form to stimulate egg release in their ovaries
- It helps women to become pregnant
- The child is the biological offspring of both the parents
- Too many eggs could be stimulated, resulting in multiple pregnancies
- Some women react badly to the treatment
- It doesn't always work and multiple treatments can be expensive
IVF - What is it?
IVF ("in vitro fertilisation") is a very common form of fertility treatment.
Eggs are collected from the women's ovaries and fertilised in a lab using the man's sperm. The embryos are grown for a short while before being transferred into a women's uterus to improve the chance of of preganancy. Donor eggs and sperm can be used as well.
FSH and LH are given before the eggs are collected to stimulate egg production, as more than one egg is collected.
IVF - Advantages and Disadvantages
- If the parents egg and sperm are used, the parents can have their own biological child which the mother can carry
- A donor egg reduces the chance of a genetic disease being passed on
- Some women have a bad reaction to the hormone - abdominal pain, vomiting
- There is a higher chance of multiple births, as more than one embryo is implanted
- IVF babies tend to born earlier, which may cause problems with birth and development
- Expensive to NHS (£2500-£3000 per round) with high chance of miscarriage. Several attempts are often needed. This can cause a lot of emotional distress.
- Embryos are often destroyed in the process which leads to an ethical issue- is it ever right to discard human life?
- There is also the possibilty for 'designer babies' - sex selective or with desirable charcteristics. This is a huge ethical issue - should we 'play God?'
If a women is unable to carry and embryo in her own uterus, then her partner's sperm may be used to fertilise one of her or another women's egg by IVF treatment. A fertilised embryo is then put in the uterus of a surrogate mother, where it develops. The surrogate mother is not the biological mother of the child, but becomes preganant and gives birth to the baby.
- A childless couple is able to have a baby
- If the parent's egg and sperm are used, the child is still biologically theirs
- The surrogate mother is legally the mother of the child until it is adopted by the parents. If the mother has developed a strong bond with the baby she might not want to give it up, leading to emtional distress and perhaps a legal battle.
- There have been cases when the biological parents do not want or have abandoned the baby with a surrogate mother if it has been born with a disabiltity or the 'wrong gender'.