Hormones to Treat Infertility (OCR Gateway GCSE Biology: Combined Science)

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Hormones & Assisted Reproductive Technology

Higher Tier Only

  • In situations where couples find it difficult to conceive, fertility treatments can improve their chances
  • There are several different options, depending on what the fertility issue is
  • Hormones to promote natural pregnancy
    • Sometimes women may have low numbers of eggs maturing in their ovaries or no eggs being released during ovulation
    • Hormones can be given to promote egg production
      • FSH is given to stimulate eggs to mature
      • LH is given to stimulate ovulation
    • This method carries the risk that several eggs may be released at once which would increase the chance of multiple births (twins or triplets etc)

  • In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF)
    • If the female cannot conceive naturally even after taking fertility drugs, or if there are issues with both male and female fertility in a couple, IVF can be used
      • This involves FSH and LH being given to the female to stimulate egg production before they are harvested from the ovary
      • The eggs are then inseminated in a petri dish using sperm from the male (‘in vitro’ means ‘in glass’)
      • Once embryos have formed, they are placed back into the uterus of the female
      • Several embryos are implanted to increase the chance of one developing further
    • This method has several issues that should be considered
      • IVF is relatively expensive and not all couples can afford it
      • As several embryos are implanted, the risk of multiple births is quite high

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