When a couple practises regular sexual intercourse without contraception and is still unable to conceive naturally, chances are that either or both of them are infertile. Infertility is a common occurrence in today’s world and while there are several fertility treatment options available, it is an emotional and financial turmoil for couples.
With the introduction of vitro fertilization (IVF), hopeful couples turned to the gruelling regimen of ultrasound examinations, hormone injections, egg retrieval, and implanting the embryos back into the womb. Soon enough, they discovered that only around 20 to 35 percent of IVF treatments led to a live birth. This meant that women had to undergo the process several times before getting pregnant.
Because of uncertainty in the results, scientists have turned to artificial intelligence (AI) to predict which embryos will lead topregnancy using IVF.
How Is Artificial Intelligence Used To Help IVF?
In the current IVF procedure, embryologists depend on their professional expertise and experience to choose those fertilized eggs that are mostly likely to lead to pregnancy. However, their estimation may not always be accurate since the process of discerning a healthy embryo requires them to do the checks through the eyes. Studies have shown that AI is more accurate than embryologists at determining which embryos had the highest potential of resulting in the birth of a healthy child.
Here’s how it works –
- During the process of IVF, AI is exposed to a series of images and is “taught” what a healthy embryo looks like
- From these images, AI is trained to recognise and quantify 24 characteristics of the embryo that are not visible to the human eye
- These characteristics include the texture of the image, the size of the embryo, and biologic characteristics like the homogeneity and number of cells, which helps embryologists in picking the best one
The trials conducted so far have concluded that AI is more accurate than embryologists in choosing a healthy embryo. With the steady progress of technological advancement and AI, potential human errors in the IVF process can be eliminated.
The Future of IVF With AI
Artificial Intelligence system for IVF is still in its experimental phase. The results have been positive so far. Researchers believe that a piece of software looking at a thousand images will yield better results than a human looking at them. This process can also lead to constant learnings and predictions may become more accurate with time. Once the details on embryos resulting in a baby are generated, it can be fed back into the computers for further learning.
This technique is, hence, more consistent in its findings, because of its ability to recognize early flaws. A lot of work is still needed to optimise the technique, and scientists are working to create a system that will be available for a clinical setting.
It is important to communicate with your doctor and understand the options available to you. In the meanwhile, do not give up hope. Eat healthy, think positive, and let nature and technology do their jobs. If you or your loved ones have conceived through IVF, tell us your story in the comments section.