How IVF Works

Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples worldwide. IVF is the process of fertilization by manually combining an egg/s and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transferring the embryo/s to the uterus.

Obtaining the eggs requires a sequence of medications that result in the maturation of many eggs at once, which can be retrieved with an ultrasound guided needle under light anesthesia. Fresh sperm are used to fertilize the eggs the same day. The resulting fertilized eggs are maintained in sophisticated and carefully controlled laboratory conditions while they undergo repeated cell divisions. After a few days, a some of these will be clearly the healthiest, and generally two are returned to the uterus in a simple procedure using a fine catheter. Normally two embryos are placed to increase the chance of pregnancy overall, but this practice comes at a cost of producing twins in about one-third of resulting pregnancies.

In the last 40 years, more than 5 million babies have been born using in vitro fertilization (IVF).

In this Video, Nassim Assefi and Brian A. Levine detail the science behind making a baby in a lab.

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