In Vitro Fertilization, commonly referred to as IVF, is the process of creating a fertilized egg by manually combining an egg and sperm outside the body in a laboratory setting.
There are many reasons that a couple may choose IVF. Trying to avoid hereditary problems and/or certain genetic diseases is the most common reason for using in vitro fertilization. Another reason for IVF is for gender selection. IVF for gender selection alone does have some moral and ethical issues that must be addressed, and for this reason some clinics will not perform in vitro fertilization for gender selection alone. However, IVF gender selection has gained popularity and is more widely accepted than it used to be. There are actually many gender selection clinics that commonly use IVF for giving you the baby boy or girl you have been dreaming of.
The process of In vitro fertilization begins with harvesting eggs. Ovulation induction is initiated by giving the female fertility medications to increase the chance of releasing multiple eggs during a single cycle. The eggs are then retrieved surgically through a process that uses a hollow needle called follicular aspiration.
Next, sperm is collected from the male through ejaculation. The sperm and eggs are then placed in incubators for fertilization to occur in a process called insemination. If the rate of fertilization is expected to be low which is sometimes the case, a procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg may be used. This is called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICI.
The eggs are then monitored for cell division, which confirms that fertilization has occurred. When cell division begins, the fertilized eggs are now called embryos. In one to six days, the embryos will contain two to four cells and be ready for implantation. At this time, the embryos can be studied under a microscope and genetic characteristics will be evident, including the sex of the baby.
The next step of in vitro fertilization is embryo transfer. This is when a preselected number of fertilized eggs are physically placed into the woman's uterus. This is done via a catheter that is guided by ultrasound.
The high gender selection cost of IVF often sways many couples against gender selection using this method. The gender selection ethics can also be a deterrent because a couple must choose what to do with the unused embryos.