I work in the world of miracles–both infertility treatment and adoption are miraculous at times. The plain truth, however, is when you are surrounded by the miraculous, sometimes you become blind to just how cool some of this stuff really is. I had one of those ah-ha moments on the show yesterday when listening to embryologist Scott Kratka.
The show was on What Happens in an Infertility Lab. Scott was describing the advancements in culture medium allowing embryos to grow undisturbed for up to 6+ days; how they can now safely take cells from a three or five day old embryos to test for genetic abnormalities; how something as mundane as the air quality in a lab can dramatically alter success rates. Any one of these things should have made me pause in wonder, but they didn’t. My epiphany came when Scott was talking about intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), the treatment that has revolutionized the treatment of male infertility.
He described this now common procedure as follows. First they dissolve the outer hard cells surrounding the egg because the outer shell is otherwise too touch to penetrate. Then they put the sperm in a thick solution to slow them down enough to grab one. They capture one of those little suckers in a hollow needle, then poke the needle hard, but not too hard into the egg, and deposit the sperm. Seventy to eighty percent of the time the egg fertilizes and grows into an embryo.
Wow. I mean really and truly wow.
Check out this short video that show ICSI in action, and while you watch, remember what it is you are truly seeing.
The whole show on What Happens in an Infertility Lab was terrific. So often patients don’t think about what happens behind the closed embryology laboratory doors, but they should because it can make the difference between success or failure of your fertility treatment.
Has any aspect of the miracle that is fertility treatment caught you off guard recently?