RSTV IAS UPSC – Test Tube Babies

  • IASbaba
  • September 7, 2019
  • 0
The Big Picture- RSTV
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Test Tube Babies


TOPIC:General Studies 3

  • Science and Technology

In news: On August 6th in 1986, India’s second test-tube baby, Harsha Chawda, was born in Mumbai. 

  • The first baby born through the IVF procedure in India was Kanupriya Agarwal. She was born on October 3, 1978, just weeks after the birth of the world’s first IVF baby in England.
  • It was on July 25th, 1978 that British gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Robert Edwards etched their names in medical history.

It’s been 41 years since IVF came into being. And since then, an estimated 8 million babies have been born worldwide as a result of this procedure.

In-Vitro fertilisation procedure: It involves fertilizing an egg outside the body, in a laboratory dish, and then implanting it in a woman’s uterus.

Why is there a need?

Infertility is known to affect one in eight couples worldwide. In India alone, infertility affects nearly 10 to 15 per cent of married couples.

In the traditional natural way, the egg gets fertilised by sperms deposited in the vagina, with the most able sperm entering the egg after travelling through the woman’s uterus and fallopian tubes. The fertilised egg then divides and forms an embryo in the fallopian tube which then travels back to the uterus to get implanted.

However, if natural or unassisted conception is not possible, fertility treatment is an option.

In an IVF cycle, the sperms that are obtained either from the ejaculated semen sample or sperms that are directly removed from the testis, are either kept in the close vicinity of the egg in petri dishes or are directly injected inside the egg by the embryologist and grown in the lab for five days under the strict supervision of the embryologist (IVF baby’s “first babysitter”). The best looking embryo is selected and transferred by the IVF specialist doctor into the uterus for implantation.

Steps involved for IVF 

  • Suppressing the natural menstrual cycle: The woman receives a drug, usually in the form of a daily injection for about 2 weeks, to suppress their natural menstrual cycle.
  • Super ovulation: Fertility drugs containing the fertility hormone follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) are given to the woman. FSH makes the ovaries produce more eggs than usual. Vaginal ultrasound scans can monitor the process in the ovaries.
  • Retrieving the eggs: The eggs are collected through a minor surgical procedure known as “follicular aspiration.” A very thin needle is inserted through the vagina and into an ovary. The needle is which is connected to a suction device. This sucks the eggs out. This process is repeated for each ovary. 

In 2011, researchers suggested that collecting 15 eggs from the ovaries in one cycle gives the highest chance of a successful pregnancy. Frozen or donated eggs may also be used.

  • Insemination and fertilization: The eggs that have been collected are placed together with male sperm and kept in an environmentally controlled chamber. After a few hours, the sperm should enter the egg. Sometimes the sperm is directly injected into the egg. This is known as an intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

Frozen sperm, retrieved through testicular biopsy, may be used. This is believed to be as effective as fresh sperm in achieving a successful pregnancy.

  • The fertilized egg divides and becomes an embryo.
  • One or two of the best embryos are selected for transfer.
  • The woman is then given progesterone or human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) to help the lining of the womb receive the embryo.
  • Embryo transfer: Sometimes, more than one embryo is placed in the womb, if no ideal embryos are available. The transfer of the embryo is done using a thin tube, or catheter. It enters the womb through the vagina. When the embryo sticks to the lining of the womb, healthy embryo growth can begin.

The IVF pregnancy is always confirmed with BHCG levels in the blood.


The incidence of miscarriages is slightly higher in women with IVF pregnancies despite being under strict supervision and receiving more medications than those with a natural pregnancy. The reasons for this are most likely attributed to the higher incidence of elderly women with some medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension, presence of fibroids and higher incidence of aneuploid embryos (embryos with abnormal number of chromosomes).

In-Virto Fertilization (IVF) technique is gaining popularity. Consider the following steps in Women’s IVF process and arrange it in its correct order of occurrence

  1. Collecting the eggs
  2. Boosting the egg supply
  3. Embryo transfer
  4. Fertilizing the eggs

Select the correct code

  1. 1-2- 3-4
  2. 2-1- 4-3
  3. 2-1- 3-4
  4. 1-2- 4-3

Solution (b)

Steps in Women’s In-Virto Fertilization (IVF) technique process

  1. Suppressing your natural monthly hormone cycle
  2. Boosting the egg supply
  3. Checking on progress
  4. Collecting the eggs
  5. Fertilising the eggs
  6. Embryo transfer

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