in vitro fertilization
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
in vitro fertilization(vē`trō, vĭ`trō) (IVF), technique for conception of a human embryo outside the mother's body. Several ovaovum
, in biology, specialized plant or animal sex cell, also called the egg, or egg cell. It is the female sex cell, or female gamete; the male gamete is the sperm. The study of the ovum is included in the science of embryology.
..... Click the link for more information. , or eggs, are removed from the mother's body and placed in special laboratory culture dishes (Petri dishes); sperm from the father are then added, or in many cases a sperm is injected directly into an ovum, a process known as intracytoplasmic sperm injection. If fertilization is successful, a fertilized ovum (or several fertilized ova), after undergoing several cell divisions, is either transferred to the mother's or a surrogate mother's body for normal development in the uterus, or frozen for later implantation. Eggs also can be frozen and fertilized later. In vitro maturation is when the ova are extracted and then matured in a laboratory (instead of in the mother's body) before they are fertilized.
First developed by Patrick C. Steptoe, Robert G. Edwards, and Jean Purdy of Great Britain (where the first "test-tube baby" was born under their care in 1978), IVF was devised for use in cases of infertilityinfertility,
inability to conceive or carry a child to delivery. The term is usually limited to situations where the couple has had intercourse regularly for one year without using birth control.
..... Click the link for more information. when the woman's fallopian tubes are damaged or the man's sperm count is low. It is also used to enable prospective parents with other reproductive problems (e.g., inability to produce eggs, poor sperm quality, or endometriosisendometriosis
, a condition in which small pieces of the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) migrate to other places in the pelvic area. The endometrial fragments may move to the fallopian tubes, ovaries, or other pelvic structures (e.g., the bladder or rectum).
..... Click the link for more information. ) to bear a child, and can be used in conjunction with embryo screeningembryo screening,
procedure (see genetic testing) in which a single cell is removed from an embryo two or three days after it has been conceived through in vitro fertilization and tested for genetic abnormalities.
..... Click the link for more information. to enable parents to have a child who is free of some inheritable defects or diseases. Embryo screening procedures have also been used to identify embryos that are generally free of abnormalities and are not likely to result in a miscarriage after implantation, thus improving the likely success of IVF. So-called three-parent or three-person IVF has been used in cases where mitochrondia in the mother's egg have genetic defects that could be passed along to a child; a number of techniques can be used to replace the mother's mitochrondria, but all involve transferring nuclear genetic material from the mother's egg to a donor's egg from which that material has been removed. In embryo donation (also called embryo adoption), frozen embryos that are not needed by the mother are donated for implantation to a woman or couple who are infertile but wish to have, and are capable of bearing, children. By 2012 the use of in vitro fertilization had resulted in the birth of more than 5 million babies worldwide. Nevertheless, the technique has raised legal, ethical, and religious issues, including concerns regarding legal custody of frozen embryos following divorce and questions regarding the appropriateness of the procedure posed by the Roman Catholic Church and other institutions.
See also artificial inseminationartificial insemination,
technique involving the artificial injection of sperm-containing semen from a male into a female to cause pregnancy. Artificial insemination is often used in animals to multiply the possible offspring of a prized animal and for the breeding of endangered
..... Click the link for more information. ; fertilizationfertilization,
in biology, process in the reproduction of both plants and animals, involving the union of two unlike sex cells (gametes), the sperm and the ovum, followed by the joining of their nuclei.
..... Click the link for more information. ; reproductive systemreproductive system,
in animals, the anatomical organs concerned with production of offspring. In humans and other mammals the female reproductive system produces the female reproductive cells (the eggs, or ova) and contains an organ in which development of the fetus takes
..... Click the link for more information. ; surrogate mothersurrogate mother,
a woman who agrees, usually by contract and for a fee, to bear a child for a couple who are childless because the wife is infertile or physically incapable of carrying a developing fetus.
..... Click the link for more information. .
See L. Andrews, The Clone Age (1999); R. M. Henig, Pandora's Baby (2004).