Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo

In Vitro Fertilization, Stem Cell Research and Ethics

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_1069

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a technique of assisted reproduction in which the fertilization of an egg by sperm is achieved outside the body. Couples seeking IVF treatments may be experiencing either male or female infertility, but is often utilized when the female produces normal eggs (oocytes) but the eggs cannot travel to the uterus due to damaged fallopian tubes. The technique was pioneered in the 1970s by Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe in England. Since then, over three million “test tube babies” have been born throughout the world using IVF techniques.

To perform IVF, one must have viable spermatozoa and healthy eggs at a precise stage of maturity – a fleeting condition for the egg that lasts only a matter of hours. To increase the odds of conception, women undergoing IVF take drugs that cause ovarian hyperstimulation, which causes the ovaries to produce larger-than-normal numbers of eggs. In normal reproduction, these eggs would travel through the fallopian tubes and, if...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Genetics Policy InstituteWashingtonUSA