Actor and comedian Amy Schumer has always been known for her honest and raw humor which she also carries into her personal life. Recently, Schumer opened up on social media about her current struggle with infertility and her hopes of having a second child.
She posted on Instagram: “I’m a week into IVF and feeling really run down and emotional. If anyone went through it and if you have any advice or wouldn’t mind sharing your experience with me, please do… We are freezing my eggs and figuring out what to do to give Gene a sibling. ❤️”
After receiving thousands of tips and support, Schumer wrote a follow-up post that said: “Your stories helped me more than you can imagine. I feel incredibly lucky. I’m really hoping this works and staying positive.”
Schumer isn’t the only celebrity that has undergone IVF treatments. Singer superstar Celine Dion chose IVF treatments after years of struggling with infertility. Her first round of IVF treatments was successful and in 2001, her first son René-Charles was born. Dion continued IVF treatments in hopes of having a larger family and in 2010, Dion was happy to announce she was pregnant with twins. Supermodel Chrissy Teigen and her husband, Grammy Award-winning singer John Legend opened up to the public about their struggles with infertility and their decision to try IVF as well. In 2016, Teigen told The Today Show, “Once we talked about IVF, it was like I heard everything.” In 2016, Teigen gave birth to her daughter, Luna and in 2018, thanks again to IVF, her first boy Miles was born.
IVF stands for “in vitro fertilization” and is one of the most well-known and effective procedures for women dealing with infertility. In this procedure, eggs are taken from a woman and combined with sperm in a laboratory – a process called insemination. After the fertilization of the eggs and sperm (which takes about 3 to 5 days), a doctor then inserts the embryo into the woman’s uterus. A successful pregnancy occurs if the embryo attaches itself to the lining of the uterus.
The development of IVF began in 1878 when Viennese embryologist Samuel Leopold Schenk made the first attempt at IVF with rabbits and guinea pigs. In 1959, scientist Min Cheuh Chang was able to successfully impregnate a rabbit with an IVF technique.
In the late 1960s, with the help of mice, rats, rabbits and hamsters researchers Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards were able to study the maturation of eggs and various fertilization processes in vitro. However, they struggled to implant the fertilized eggs in the human uterus. In 1976, the researchers met an infertile couple who were willing to undergo an IVF treatment and the procedure was successful. On July 25, 1978, Louise Brown, the first “test-tube baby”, was born!
Since 1978, over 8 million babies have been born around the world thanks to IVF treatments. According to the most recent IVF report provided by the CDC, more than 284,000 IVF procedures were performed in the United States in 2017. Women under 35 had a success rate of 51.6% and women between the ages of 38 and 40 had a success rate of 23.5%.
IVF is not the only treatment for infertility that was developed thanks to animal research. With the help of hamsters, researchers developed fertility injection treatments using the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone to trigger a woman’s ovaries to release eggs.
The intrauterine insemination procedure (IUI) is similar to IVF and more affordable. It involves placing sperm directly inside a woman’s uterus in the hopes that the sperm will get closer to the woman’s eggs. In 1784, scientist Lazzaro Spallanzani studied IUI with the help of canines. Spallanzani’s work later led researcher John Hunter to successfully achieve the first successful IUI-induced human pregnancy in 1973.
Animal research has played a significant role in the development of treatments for infertility. The CDC reports that 1 in 7 Americans experience infertility; but thanks to animal research, women are not only given a better chance of having children but are also able to give their children long and healthy lives. Millions of babies have been born thanks to fertility treatments – another animal research victory!
By Nelia Dashiell
Featured Image – Laboratory technician fertilizing an egg (via Getty Images)