In vitro fertilization (or fertilisation; IVF) is a process by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body: in vitro (“in glass”). The process involves monitoring and stimulating a woman’s ovulatory process, removing an ovum or ova (egg or eggs) from the woman’s ovaries and letting sperm fertilize them in a liquid in a laboratory. The fertilized egg (zygote) is cultured for 2–6 days in a growth medium and is then transferred to the same or another woman’s uterus, with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy.
IVF techniques can be used in different types of situations. It is a technique of assisted reproductive technology for treatment of infertility. IVF techniques are also employed in gestational surrogacy, in which case the fertilized egg is implanted into a surrogate’s uterus, and the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate. In some situations, donated eggs or sperms may be used. Some countries ban or otherwise regulate the availability of IVF treatment, giving rise to fertility tourism. Restrictions on availability of IVF include costs and age to carry a healthy pregnancy to term. Due to the costs of the procedure, IVF is mostly attempted only after less expensive options have failed.
You may ask “what has all this complex biology got to do with a woman chasing her career”, my answer is everything. In our African context it’s customary that a woman goes to school to at most her degree level and then finds a husband, gets married, has kids and be contented with her husband bringing in most of the “money” to the household. However with the turn of the 21st century and the propagation of gender equality women are taking the professional “bull” the horns drawing inspiration from top career women like SHERYL SANDBERG (Chief Operating Officer of Facebook), HELEN GURLEY BROWN (American Author, Publisher, and Businesswoman, and Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine), ELLEN ALEMANY (Chairman and CEO of RBS Citizens Financial Group; Head of RBS Americas), HEATHER THOMSON (President and Founder of Yummie Tummie; Star of Bravo’s Real Housewives of NYC), CINDY BARSHOP (Founder and Owner of Completely Bare Hi-Tech Spa) to name a few. That said many women now are following very much extended academic and professional careers before considering procreation as an option.
In some societies young women develop a stigma for getting pregnant and make such statements as “children will slow me down” as they seek to match their male counterparts. However with the development of IVF women can now put in place a stable professional career before considering building a family. It goes without saying that career women are intimidating and repulsive to a majority of men because and as such IVF may help reduce a woman’s dependency on a man to start a family.
Dr. Piave Lake, of the Mental Health Professionals Group at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, said it’s important to point out that when a woman chooses not to have an intimate relationship, there can be cultural or religious factors in their decision.
“Ultimately, women have the right to reproduce in the way that they want,” Lake said. “If they have the means to pursue that, who are we to say no? I do think we need to understand what their cultural and religious context is and what their reasons are for wanting a child.”
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