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The birth hour of artificial insemination

Not everyone can have a child. The number of couples whose wish for child remains unfulfilled is higher than one might expect. New technologies, created for artificial insemination, can achieve the impossible.

We date 25th July 2018 – it is Louise Joy Brown’s 40th birthday. A day to celebrate for her and her family and a day that sparks hope to couples all over the world.

40 years ago, the gynecologist Patrick Steptoe and physiologist Robert G. Edwards made artificial insemination possible. They fulfilled John and Lesley Brown’s wish for a child and became famous for being the foreriders of the successful application of in vitro fertilization.

Understanding fertilization methods

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

When it comes to artificial insemination, nowadays there are various options that can be used depending on the fertility of the man and woman.
In Mr. and Mrs. Browns’ case, the medicals used the so called in vitro fertilization (IVF). In this method, the woman undergoes a hormone treatment for the purpose of increasing the probability of pregnancy. This step is followed by the removal of mature eggs, or egg retrieval. In the classical IVF, the woman’s fertilized eggs are combined with a man’s sperm for spontaneous fertilization in a petri dish. In the classical in vitro fertilization, the sperm fertilizes the egg independently.

ICSI

Technology has progressed since the days of Mr. and Mrs. Brown and a new technique of adding the sperm to the eggs (fertilization process) has been developed. For the case of sperm-related infertility when spontaneous fertilization fails, medicals have developed the assisted reproductive technique of injecting the sperms to the eggs with a needle (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, ICSI).
Lastly, regardless whether IVF or ICSI was applied, the physician inserts the embryo into the uterus where it eventually grows – just like a child conceived naturally.

Microscopes: making the magic happen

A visit to the Fertility Center Fiore in St. Gallen proves: Artificial insemination, being the fragile procedure it is, is strongly relying on two crucial factors: The expertise and precision of the physician as well as the quality and progressiveness of the technological devices.

A microscope used for artificial insemination must be stable and vibration-free. After all, delicate movements such as the injection of sperm into the egg take place under the microscope. In the laboratory, the technician is responsible for the assessment of sperms. It is his responsibility to measure the structure and vitality of the sperm.

Furthermore, for a successful insemination, temperature must be kept constant during the entire process. The technician at the Fertility Center Fiore is using ZEISS Axio Observer 5 to evaluate and fertilize the eggs at 37°C. The temperature-regulating feature of his microscope is vital as smallest fluctuations in temperature reduce the probability of success.

Eventually, everything comes down to one thing – the workflow cannot be interrupted and the devices must function perfectly. Microscopes facilitate the work of physicians on a daily basis and ultimately help to create life.

Happy Birthday, Louise Joy!

Mr. and Mrs. Brown believed in the power of science and technology and their courage was rewarded. Their baby girl Joy was born blessed with health and is celebrating her 40th birthday today. A happy ending for Mr. and Mrs. Browns’ rocky road to becoming parents. Louise Joy is married and mother of two sons who she conceived naturally.

Further Information

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2 comments

I have experienced the ICSI method some years ago because my dream was to be a “mom”. In 2010 my beautiful child was born thanks to the miracle of science. I just want to share this experience with the company who made my dream come true. Thanks to researchers and to the ZEISS tecnology, I’m hearing today the most beautiful word in the world: “hey mom!”.
Laura Martignoni – ZEISS Italy

Dear Laura, thank you very much for sharing your beautiful story with us. It is great to hear of examples how a microscope can create such a big difference and completely change someone’s life. We wish you and your family all the best! Your ZEISS Stories Team

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