Over the years, children have been viewed to be a source of joy to most families in the world. Generally, child bearing has been done through natural child bearing method. However, the development of science and the evolution of research have completely changed the natural modes of doing various things in the world, as technology offer new and simplified methods of doing things that could only be done through natural means. The first scientific breakthrough in child delivery came with the introduction of the cesarean section to assist mothers who are in danger of death to deliver safely and also safe the unborn child from death. The developments further led to scientists looking for other ways of solving the problem of infertility and this led to the discovery of in vitro fertilization (IVF), commonly known as ''test tube babies'' (DeMarco, 1995).
The discovery of the possibility of getting babies in another way other than the natural method of child bearing has stirred many emotions in the vast population. To some, the news was received with delight, while to other people it was faced with bitter opposition. Most of the opposition has resulted from the religious institutions such as the Catholic Church, which took the center stage in the heated opposition (Alastair, Basatemur & Shevlin, 2010). The general argument is that children are a gift from God and, therefore, any means used to artificially bring about children is an act of blasphemy. On the opposite side of the group are those who see this new breakthrough as a tool that can be used to counter health issues such as infertility. The issue of ethics, surrounding IVF, has been discussed in many literal works. However, this paper tries to look at the issue surrounding the use of IVF in one of the forgotten ways that can help in tackling the dilemma. The paper presents the pros and cons of IVF and after their analysis; conclusion is drawn out of them.
The Procedure of IVF Process
Basically, in vitro fertilization involves the fertilization of the egg cells that have been removed from a woman with the sperm cells from the male and the whole process of fertilization takes place outside the body. After fertilization has been successfully completed through the selection of the best and most fertile eggs and sperm cells, the fertilized egg, also known as the ova (fertilization is conducted in a laboratory and it’s done in a fluid medium), is transferred to the uterus of either the same woman or another woman in need of a child. The process involves a series of long procedure involving a lot of data collection, experimentation as well as close observation by physicians (Edwards, 2005). The debate surrounding the ethics of IVF has been on high rise. However, the issue can be looked upon in terms of its advantages and disadvantages to the parents, the child as well as the general community.
Benefits of IVF
The ethical issues, concerning IVF, has seen a large group of people consisting mainly of scientists, realists and the directly affected infertile people, outlining some of the advantages that have been brought about by the technology. These advantages are discussed below in depth.
Solution to Infertility
The number of infertile people is increasing. The rate of infertility in the United States of America alone stands at 8.5%. This figure is for United States alone without mentioning the other parts of the world. The causes of infertility vary from the natural causes to the artificially induced causes. The natural causes are quite low in count. The advancement in technology has been the major cause of the high increase in the rate of infertility. Most electronic gadgets such as the mobile phones, personal computers and other medical equipment have been known to be a major cause of infertility, especially in men (Deech & Smajdor, 2007). Advancement in the nuclear industry, which employs the use of harmful radioactive material, is another potential cause of infertility.
The human race cannot escape the reality of technology. As a result, the subsequent negative effects of technology must be dealt with by use of the same technology to come up with solutions. This is the reason as to why IVF should be embraced in the modern world. IVF is important, as it offers those incable of reproducing with the chance to actually have their own children without taking the alternative solution of adoption.
Reduced Cases of Birth Defects
It is a known fact that the possibility of giving birth to children who are malformed is always there. The occurrence of such an event has been the cause for distress among many couples. The effect is even worse for the mothers who, in some cases, have been known to undergo depression. This is attributed to the long period of time, in which they have to endure carrying the baby in their womb for nine months. The breakthrough in IVF has seen the possibility of reducing the cases of child defects (Winston, 1996). This is done by close observation and study of the process of fertilization as well as prior monitoring of the early development process of the embryo outside the mother's body. More studies conducted during IVF also help in coming up with better solutions in prenatal care and the general advancement in medicine.
Integration of IVF with other Treatments
Many deaths of children under the natural method of giving birth are associated with the inability to closely monitor or administer treatment during the natural growth period of the child. This is one area that has been perfected by the use of IVF and as a result, the public outcry for the ethics of the procedure has significantly reduced. The procedure involves the use of diagnosis of the genetics of the donor parents as well as the genetics of the resulting child to help in the determination of the likelihood of the occurrence of genetic disorders.
The Occurrence of Multiple Embryos
The use of IVF is known to result in the occurrence of multiple embryos. Critics argue that this process is a waste of life, especially in light of those parents who make a choice on which embryo to implant in the womb (Dyson, 1995). However, the people, who are for the idea, view multiple embryos as an advantage to the couples who want to undergo the process only once. Over the past few years the success rate of in vitro fertilization has increased tremendously, thus, silencing the critics who argued that it involves taking chances with the mother’s precious life. It has resulted to a large case of women giving birth to multiple children, in most cases, twins as well as triplets. This has eased the burden of having to endure the process of child birth for several times, which is in itself a potential health risk. With the busy schedule that is characteristic of the modern world, many couples prefer to undergoes the process of child bearing once in order to allocate more time to other pressing needs of the modern world.
The Ability to Choose
IVF provides many people with the ability to choose the time to have a child. Many people extract their sperm and egg cells, which are stored in the medical laboratories for use, at the time of their convenience. This has been a source of delight, especially since it means that even mothers in their fifties can give birth to children (Iglesias, 1990). The process does not only give people the freedom to choose, when to have a child, it also gives people the freedom to choose with whom to have a child. This has given people a sense of satisfaction since the freedom of choice is one of the most valued things in life.
Disadvantages of IVF
Even though IVF was formally used as a mean of solving the problem of infertility among women as well as any form of fertility problems, it is no secret that the use of IVF has brought about a number of problems to the health of the mother and child. The use of IVF has its own problems that cannot be ignored by doctors or the couples, involved for that matter, since it is of uttermost importance for these problems to be put to light so that the patient can be enlightened of the effects before treatment is conducted.
In most cases, the patient is likely to experience such effects as hot flushes at a regular basis, cases of nausea are a common side effect, mood swings as well as headaches. However, the effects are not expected to last longer than an approximated one month time. Nevertheless, in some cases a patient may end up with a more serious complication or perhaps a more disturbing side effect that may call for a long term doctor attention as well as the administration of prescribed medication under the watchful eye of a specialist.
Ovarian Hyper-stimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
The OHSS is a reaction that the patient experiences due to the use of drugs that the women use, while undergoing IVF treatment, in order to stimulate the reaction of the ovaries in a bid to conceive. The general symptoms of OHSS may vary from the small symptoms that do not cause any alarm to the more serious type of problems that may pose a threat to the patient's life. The symptoms will actually range from the casual signs of nausea and swelling of the patients' stomach. These types of symptoms should not be ignored as they call for immediate medical care.
Emotional and the Mental Side Effects
The IVF treatment of the patients has, over time, been considered as an extremely stressful exercise to the woman as well as all the parties involved. The process is extremely tedious and time consuming and so the need of total dedication as well as commitment is necessary for both parties. The matter is made worse with the fact that the undertaking of the whole process does not at all guarantee that the process will be successful to an extent of having a successful conception that will eventually lead to a successful pregnancy and eventually, delivery of the new born baby. The IVF treatment calls for a lot of patience as well as hope both before and after the actual treatment is carried out. IVF is actually a source of painful type of experience to the couple who after undergoing the whole process involving the treatment as well as doing everything right, they have their high hopes crushed to the ground as they may not be successful for the first time but may require several trials in an attempt to achieve successful pregnancy.
The use of IVF can end up being in many ways a great test to the couples' relationship, as it poses a great deal of emotional strain to the parties involved. In addition, the stress and emotional imbalance experienced by the parties may lead to a major psychological disorder that may develop to depression or perhaps other forms of psychological problems. The challenging nature of IVF treatment actually calls the need of counseling programs to be provided to the willing couples prior to the treatment process if at all the couples are to get through the actual IVF treatment unaffected emotionally as well as psychologically.
Stimulation Side Effects
The side effects that are experienced due to the stimulation process are most common and are experienced by over 90 per cent of all women who undergo the IVF treatment (Lockwood, 2005). These types of side effects involves such effects as the patient may experience severe abdominal pains over a long period of time, the patient may experience the shortness of breath symptoms over a long period of time, nausea and not to mention the possible sudden loss of weight. These symptoms are normally experienced during the initial stages of the IVF administration process during the ovary stimulation phase of the treatment.
Egg Retrieval Related Side Effects
The egg retrieval process is fortunately short and it happens only once during the IVF treatment. The side effects, associated with the egg retrieval process, are fewer and easier to manage. These side effects include: the patients experiencing cramps not long after the egg retrieval process is carried out as well as the occurrence of severe bleeding, which should be handled with care and taken seriously through medical attention from a specialist (Demiro & Gurgan, 2007).
The Embryo Transfer Related Side Effects
After the external fertilization procedure, the final stage in the IVF process involves the actual transferring procedure of the embryo into the woman’s womb. The likely side effects experienced are the occurrence of cramps and occasional bleeding, which are normally not considered dangerous unless the symptoms persist or perhaps the bleeding and cramps become severe. The most serious of the IVF treatment side effects, associated with the embryo transfer process, is the occurrence of the ectopic pregnancy. The ectopic pregnancy condition is potential life threatening condition for both the mother and the unborn baby. The ectopic pregnancy related symptoms include: abnormal bleeding of the vagina, breast tenderness, and possible pain felt on one side of the abdomen, severe state of vomiting and nausea as well as general discomfort (Chatzinikolau, 2010).
In addition, the whole IVF process is considered to carry a significant chance of a woman experiencing still born delivery, which can be extremely devastating. The approximated chance of a woman giving birth to a healthy and most importantly a living baby is believed to be largely dependent on the mother's age. Either way the highest chance of delivering a living baby is related to the younger women below 35 years of age and is approximated to be at most 42%, while the lowest chance is related to the older women with above 45 years of age and is at most 13% possibility of giving birth to a living baby.
IVF treatment is normally carried out by specialist and well qualified personnel; the use of experts to handle those patients significantly reduces that chance of any unintentional mistake from occurring. The process involve the use of sophisticated as well as modernized equipment that aid in the carrying out of a successful process. Despite the fact that the IVF treatment has its share of disadvantages, the treatment has had its fair portion of success, moreover, in many cases, it is the only alternative for the couple, affected by infertility, to have their own children and so the treatment offers a chance worth taking.