Reproductive Endocrine Assoc. Assisted Reproduction Q & A

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization and embryo transfer is a powerful fertility tool which involves the collection of ripe eggs from the woman's body in order to achieve fertilization outside of the body, followed by transfer into the woman's womb. It is important to note that in routine IVF, fertilization is achieved by natural means. Although the laboratory conditions are carefully monitored to mimic the human body, fertilization itself is achieved without any other intervention.

IVF and embryo transfer resulted in the birth of the world's first "test tube baby" in 1978 as a result of the extended efforts of Drs. Robert Edwards and Patrick Steptoe in Cambridge, England. IVF was first utilized as a fertility treatment to overcome blocked fallopian tubes. In fact, the world's first test tube baby was born from a woman whose fallopian tubes had both been removed because of prior tubal pregnancies. Dr. Brody, our Medical Director, has authored one of the leading texts on IVF with Dr. Edwards, the father of IVF.This textbook published by W.B. Saunders in 1995 is entitled: Principles and Practice of Assisted Human Reproduction.

We now know that IVF is such a powerful fertility treatment that it can be used for virtually any form of infertility, providing satisfactory eggs are obtained, sperm function is adequate, and the uterus provides an appropriate site for the growth of the baby. Indeed, in vitro fertilization can be used for infertility due to endometriosis, ovulatory problems, pelvic adhesions, blocked tubes, luteal defects, cervical factor, sperm allergy, male factor and unexplained infertility.

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