In-vitro Fertilization

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Islamic Medicine
Staff member
By Prof. Hassan Hathout

This is the technique used if there is a mechanical obstruction preventing access of sperm to the ovum, usually in the form of block of both falopian tubes that could not be corrected by surgery. At the time of ovulation (natural or hormonaly induced), ova are aspirated from their little follicles in the ovary, either under direct vision through the laparoscope or under ultrasound screening; in the latter case the aspirating needle may approach the ovary through the abdominal wall, the bladder wall or the vaginal wall, depending on how best to reach the ovary and avoid adhesions or other pathology. The o a are subjected to husband's sperm in vitro in the hope that one or more will be fertilized. If this Occurs, the fertilized ovum is maintained in special medium to proceed to divide, and at the four or eight cell stage, seen under the microscope, this early embryo is aspirated and pumped int the uterus of the woman through the natural route. Up to three or for embryos may be so deposited at a time if available, hoping that one or more will be successful in clinging to, then implanting into. the lining embrane of the uterus, and proceeding to grow like any natural pregnance. Since Steptoe and Edwards hit the news in 1978 when Louise Browne was born as the first 'test tube!" baby, several thousand babies have been conceived and born using the same technique and the number of involved centers is ever increasing.

There is no doubt that is technique is a breakthrough in the management of infertility and is to be praised for the joy and happiness it brought to thousands of household, and for the existance of the many boys and girls who would otherwise have never been. The follow up so far has not shown any harmful effect on the children or increase of the congenital abnormality rate above that of the general population. The sex-ratio is also the same as for the genera population (although the technique entails an opportunity for sex selection).

The Islamic ruling on in vitro fertilization is no exception to its rulings on mating and reproduction in general that have been already referred to. The procedure is Islamically acceptable and commendable but only if it solely involves husband and wife and if it is performed during the span of thcir marriage. The fusion of sperm and ovum a step further of the scxual intcrcourse between man and woman) should takc place only within the marriagc contract. If the woman bccomes widowed or divorced then the marriage contract has come to a conclusion. and storcd semen of the husband would be alien to her.

The triangle formed by father-mother-child should only be thrice sided, without intcrjcction of other parties. Equivalent to the donation of alien semen is the donation of alien ovum again because a pregnancy would result from two parties (the contributors of sperm and ovum) not bound by a marriage contract.
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