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Medical Miracles: IVF

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Meredith Holt graduated MGHS with the Class of 2015. Her interest in this topic comes from her aunt and uncle that had to have this performed on them. Today, they live happily with three children from two in-vitro fertilizations. She is also interested in this topic because she thinks that this helps families that are unable to conceive be able to have their own true children.

In-Vitro Fertilization

Medical Miracle

The In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedure may not have been established until the last quarter of the twentieth century, but it goes back farther than most people think. In 1878, the first attempt on in vitro fertilization was performed on a rabbit and guinea pig ova. A Viennese embryologist known as Samuel Leopold Schenk performed this,and was the one who noticed that after the sperm was introduced, cell division began to take place.

The next milestone in IVF occurred in 1951, when two independent working scientists, Colin Russel Austin and Min Chueh Chang, determined that spermatozoa needs to develop through specific stages before they establish the capacity to fertilize. By 1959, Chang was able use IVF to impregnate rabbits successfully. To successfully conduct IVF in humans would have to wait until the 1970s.

Significant Discovery

Patrick Steptoe teamed up with Robert Edwards to try and achieve a successful pregency in a woman using regency. Their collaboration started in 1968. Initially, they achieved fertilization and cell division in vitro with semen freshly extracted, but they were unable to place the fertilized egg into the woman until 1978. On July 24, 1978, Louise and John Brown had the first baby that was produced through in vitro fertilization.

Emerging Innovations

There is a want to provide elective single embryo transfer without decreasing IVF success rate. The next big advancement includes all the technologies used now, but also some ones that researchers from OvaScience are developing a new technology to enhance IVF success. To enhance IVF success they will supplement the energy level inside her eggs using the woman's own egg precursor cells, which are found in the woman's ovaries. OvaScience is also developing, potentially, the next generation IVF technologies with the goal of maturing the woman's own egg precursor cells into fresh, young, healthy eggs for implantation.

Social Impact

  Positive Effects   Negative Effects
  • Fertility drugs are not linked to ovarian cancer
  • Couples doing IVF are more likely to be depression
  • Side Effects with women taking fertility drugs: bloating, abdominal pain, mood swings, headaches
  • Fertility drugs could cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)
  • Risk of multiple pregnancies
  • Risk of premature birth and low birth weight

  • Embryologists
  • Clinical Embryologist: outlook is great

  • It is your child that you are producing to have a happy life of your own
  • Considered a miracle
  • Puts question on the "sanctity of life"
  • Turns children into commodities
  • Catholicism only religion that unequivocally condemns IVF
  • The Vatican dispute that research, development, and practice of IVF involves the destruction of human life
  • Freezing process is unethical: amount of time that embyro is frozen could have detrimental effects on the embryo
  • Private sector transaction that happens outside the control and regulation of the government
  • Artificial conception raises the possibilities of myriad problems
  • May need resolution by legislation or national guidelines
  • Infertality rate increases with each new birth
  • IVF costs not as much for women who are the age of 30 or younger
  • IVF is very costly: $12,000-$17,000 for a single cycle
  • All of these issues: time lost from work, child care expenses or debt incurred to pay for treatment, are more difficult to quantify, may contribute to the financial burden taken on by individuals doing IVF
  • IVF costs three times more for women over age of 40


The idea of in vitro fertilization is one that is controversial, but not in way we would think. The only issue that seems controversial is the status it has with being apart of the government. It is considered a private sector transaction that happens outside the control and regulation of the government. It also brings up some issues in it being ethical or not. With some of the religions there are rules that state that in vitro fertilization is not allowed, but some religions have come to a consensus to allow the families that can't produce to have that opportunity. No matter what day and age we are in, there may always be some sort of issue with this topic because someone may find another fault in it that no one else has thought of before.


According to the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technologies(SART) the approximate chance of giving birth to a live baby after IVF is as follows:

  • Women under 35: 41%-43%
  • Women 35-37: 33%-36%
  • Women 38-40: 23%-27%
  • Women 41 and older: 13%-18%


This a very informative animation of how in vitro fertilization is done in order to produce a fertile embryo.

Process of In-Vitro Fertilization

Click image to enlarge

Future Directions

I believe that this medical miracle is important to many people around the world and also to me personally. In virto fertilization will help a husband and wife that are unable to produce children in vivo, be able to produce them in vitro. I believe all women should have the experience of carrying their own child and not have to turn to the other options. To have the experience of carrying your own child makes a mother a mother because it was their child that they carried around for 9 long months. As I stated above, I can relate to this because my aunt and uncle hand three boys by in vitro fertilization. If they did not use this miracle to help them, I would not have three wonderful cousins that are a bundle of joy to see. They may be a handful sometimes, but knowing that they are apart of family is worth that. They mean a lot to the whole family because they are our family.

What do you think?


KEEP What are your thoughts about in vitro fertilization?
Not Ethical: 0 votes (0%)
Way for a family to have babies that are unable to have them: 5 votes (83.33%)
Against family traditions: 0 votes (0%)
Reliable way to have a child: 0 votes (0%)
I don't know: 1 votes (16.67%)
Total Votes: 6

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