BBC 4 Documentary ‘Baby Makers: The Fertility Clinic’ Review

This was a really interesting documentary, especially as we are a couple who predict problems with getting pregnant. It covered a fertility clinic in Liverpool, and their attempts to help 4 couples fertilise an egg and ultimately get them pregnant.

Here is a link to the program on Iplayer, it will be available till tomorrow (17/1/13) and is also available on Youtube: Baby Makers: The Fertility Clinic.

The clinic say that for couples under 35 years of age, they have a success rate of approximately 30%. Something which turns out to be accurate with the four couples they show.

The documentary covers every step of the journey of IVF;

  1.  Pre-treatment screening and advice to increase the chance of the treatment working
  2. Obtaining the sperm and egg
  3. Cleaning and maturing the samples for selection of the most suitable cells
  4. The actual fertilisation of the egg, be it by direct fertilisation, where the sperm is chosen, or putting both sets of cells in the same dish and allowing natural selection to take effect.
  5. The incubation and monitoring of the fertilised egg, to see which one should be used for the IVF
  6. Finally the actual attaching of the fetilised egg onto the wall of the uterus
  7. At the end of the program it goes to each couple and shows whether the treatment has been successful.

Near the beginning of the show they stated that in the UK, you are allowed as a couple 2 free attempts to get pregnant using IVF as logn as you fit certain criteria, anymore after that and you are required to go private and will therefore have to fund it yourself. While watching, we were discussing that obviously we hope that we won’t need to go down the route of IVF, but if we do, will we be able to give up after 2 attempts? As how do you know when there is a significant chance and when are you fighting a losing battle? This was emphasised by the couples on the show, only 1 out of the 4 were successful. Of the other 3, 2 had another course of treatment, one was unsuccessful and the other had an ectopic pregnancy. The final couple, were left not knowing whether to try again or not.

The person in charge of the unit, Professor Charles Kingston, had some useful advice, how did the cave man reproduce so successfully? Quick and high pressure (the risk of being eaten by animals), so why not replicate the situation, by having sex at your partners parents, but only tell him when you are there and that you are commando! Apparently this will mean his sperm count will be as high as possible! Found this a bit weird but if it works then why not. Although his logic does seem to make sense.

This was a very interesting program, which certainly got us talking about what we would do, should getting pregnant not be as simple as we hope. But it is comforting to see the efforts that go into helping such couples by the doctors, nurses and scientists involved. Hopefully our local centre will be as helpful and have such friendly staff as those at the Hewitt Fertility Centre.

I will leave you with one final question from the show, after sex….”why does the sperm all dribble out?”

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