IVF literally means allowing fertilization of the male and female gametes (sperm and egg) to occur outside the human body. IVF is an established treatment for many forms of infertility where an egg or eggs are extracted from the ovary or ovaries of a woman and mixed or injected with human sperm in the laboratory to achieve fertilization. After normal fertilization is achieved, the fertilized eggs are cultured in the laboratory for an appropriate period of time before they are placed inside a woman’s uterus (womb) with the intent of making the woman pregnant.
The first IVF baby in the world was born in 1978. At last count in 2012, over 5 million babies have been born worldwide as a result of IVF. There are many variations of the treatment depending on the medical indications and social circumstances, including use of donor eggs, donor sperm and/or gestational surrogates.