The history of IVF

history of IVF

The British county where IVF was first performed anywhere in the world has now officially scrapped free fertility treatment, as part of a range of health service budgetary cuts taking place throughout the country.

Peterborough has become the third area in the UK to stop providing free fertility treatment. The CCG reports the move will save £700,000 a year in the county alone. In light of the recent withdrawal of free IVF cycles, we take a look at the history of IVF, this ground-breaking and life-changing treatment.

Where it all began

Since its introduction in 1978, IVF technology has dramatically evolved and improved. Though success rates are still not as high as both patients and fertility specialists would like, it is much more effective today than it was during its introduction.

IVF was actually started in a Cambridgeshire clinic and it resulted in the first baby to be born through vitro fertilisation. That baby was Louise Brown, now aged 35. Since then, there have been over 5 million babies born through IVF treatment.

Although the first IVF baby was born in 1978, research into the treatment actually started way back in 1878. Very basic studies were conducted on animal gametes. It wasn’t until 1959 through to 1963 that scientists discovered IVF could be successful in mammals.

Although it is used for a number of fertility issues these days, initially IVF was developed purely to by-pass blocked or damaged Fallopian tubes.

How IVF developed

After the discovery that IVF could be used on mammals, the next major breakthrough was Louise’s birth in 1978. Though the treatment was used to help with many other pregnancies in the years following its first success, it wasn’t until 1992 that the next major breakthrough happened.

ICSI treatment was introduced, enabling men suffering from poor sperm quality to use their own sperm, rather than a donor’s during the treatment. The treatment still remained unobtainable to many due to its significantly high cost. That was until 2004 when IVF was made into a mainstream treatment.

As of 2012, more than five million babies had been born throughout the globe thanks to IVF. Now, in the UK, it’s estimated that around 1.5% of babies are conceived through IVF treatment.

What’s next for IVF?

Although the news that patients will no longer be offered free IVF treatment in certain parts of the UK is certainly discouraging, there are more positive developments occurring. For example, scientists have recently discovered a new piece of DNA in embryos, which can be manipulated to potentially improve the success rate of the treatment.

There has also been research recently which has revealed women who suffer a miscarriage during their first round of IVF, are more likely to go on to have a successful pregnancy after a second or third round.

Overall, IVF has come a long way over the years. As research continues into fertility issues and potential new techniques, the future of IVF treatment is certainly hopeful.