In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)

Human oocyte

Related Article: IVF Procedure

In Vitro Fertilization begins with drugs and hormones, used to stimulate a woman’s ovaries into producing mature eggs. Those eggs are then retrieved from her ovaries and mixed with male sperm in a laboratory to achieve fertilization. The resulting embryo is then put directly into the woman’s uterus, with the hope that it will attach to the uterine wall and begin to develop.

Successful In Vitro Fertilization has been around since the birth of a little English girl named Louise Brown in 1978. Since then millions of women and couples have benefited from this remarkable procedure.

Success rates for In Vitro Fertilization, and all infertility treatments, varies widely and is contingent upon a variety of factors.

The term is a little misleading and somewhat archaic. In the Latin language, vitrum means ‘glass’ and in vitro means ‘in glass’. So you could read in vitro fertilization as "fertilization taking place inside a glass dish at a laboratory."

In this context, In Vitro Fertilization has developed a wider meaning, referring to fertilization occurring outside of the body. As a result, the opposite of in vitro is in vivo, which suggests ‘within the body’.

For couples having trouble conceiving, or for women who want to get pregnant, In Vitro Fertilization raises the probability of pregnancy by putting the actual fertilization of the egg under varying degrees of medical control.

Next: the IVF Procedure

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