Reproductive technologies seem to be advancing at a stunning rate. In the last six months or so, I’ve read of new research involving time-lapse photos of embryo development as a means of increasing success with IVF, three-person IVF, and new testing procedures for identifying the viability of an IVF embryo. The latter procedure, approved in the UK, is known as the Early Embryo Viability Assessment or EEVA. Appropriately enough, the first baby born in Scotland using the procedure has been named Eva.
Of course, the downside of such news stories is that they may offer false hope to many of those who are dealing with fertility issues. A story covered in the news may be for a treatment that either is not applicable to their individual case, or may not be available for several more years. For doctors, knowing which treatments to recommend requires not just up to date knowledge and expertise, but also a high level of compassion.
In this issue, we have articles on new developments in male fertility, and on prospects for preserving fertility in both male and female cancer patients. We also explore the use of the da Vinci robot in a number of different fertility-based procedures. Frank Kourt takes us back in time to 1978, when the first “test-tube” baby was born, a procedure that we almost take for granted now but which was groundbreaking in its day. Finally, given that science is moving so quickly, I talk with a bioethicist about some of the ethical issues arising from modern reproductive technology.
I hope you find it both interesting and enlightening.