Fertilty and Putrakamesti

Thousands of  years ago Prof. Vasishta, a famous professor in the kingdom of Kosala performed a miracle called Putrakamesti (perhaps by use of artificial insemination and fertility drugs), and helped Aryan king Dasaradha and his wives beget children.  Perhaps, he overlooked the racial identity of the sperm donor, Kausalya had a dark skinned baby boy! Another famous scientist by name Vyasa, in another age,  helped a couple get one hundred and one kids in one litter.  The couple was King Dhritarashtra and his wife Gandhari.  Vyasa rescued the prematurely born babies, by using incubators.
Development in Science and Technology is the hall mark of the twentieth century.  We made tremendous strides and achieved unprecedented development during this century.  Now we are entering the twenty first century and apparently entering a new era of fertility! Though there is nothing to be scared, we have to be careful, since anything uncontrollable is dangerous. Fertility drugs are a boon to those women, who cannot concieve normally.  But their administration should be under very strict supervision.  The experiment Dr. Katherine Hauser did with McCaugheys is successful and we are all relieved that the mother Bobbi and her seven babies born within six minutes are doing fine.  But that was a dangerous experiment involving lives of humans, not Guinea Pigs.  Multiple births beyond triplets  usually are characterized by some degree of physical or cognitive  disability, critics said, and in most cases they can and ought to be avoided.

 McCaugheys' doctors prescribed a drug called Metrodin, rich in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). It is made from urine collected daily from 100,000 postmenopausal women in Europe. (Postmenopausal women produce only small amounts of estrogen, which normally suppresses the production of FSH, so their urine is rich in the egg-maturing hormone.) Typically doctors track the egg maturation process in fertility patients  with ultrasound imaging, which allows them to see the small eruptions  that develop on the surface of the ovaries as eggs mature. When three or four or more are ripe, doctors give an injection of another hormone, human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), to release those eggs from their ovarian nests and make them available to sperm, which are injected into the vicinity with a syringe or through intercourse. Ovarian overstimulation can cause swelling and  bleeding of the ovaries and severe fluid retention that can lead in rare cases to heart failure. Women carrying multiple fetuses also are at risk for potentially fatal  blood clots and other complications during pregnancy and delivery, and  the children often require expensive follow-up care for many years. A  set of Indiana sextuplets born in 1993 required three years of  state-funded special care, for example, and several sextuplets born last year in Albany, N.Y., have serious medical problems, including one case of partial blindness.

 Reproductive medicine is unregulated in this country, in large part because the government, under pressure from opponents of abortion, has  banned the federal funding of research involving human embryos. That ban has meant that fertility research has been conducted primarily at independent, profit-seeking clinics instead of by federal researchers, whose proposed experiments must first pass muster with scientific and ethical review boards. Sreenivasarao Vepachedu, November 1997.

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