Health & FitnessIn vitro fertilization basics: An expert guide to IVF and its challenges

In vitro fertilization basics: An expert guide to IVF and its challenges

IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. It is a way of making a baby when a person or a couple has trouble getting pregnant naturally. IVF works by taking an egg and a sperm and joining them together in a laboratory. Then the fertilized egg, called an embryo, is put inside the womb of the person who wants to have the baby.

IVF can help people who have different kinds of fertility problems, such as blocked tubes, low sperm count, or unknown causes. IVF can also help people who are LGBTQ or single to have a baby with the help of a donor or a surrogate.

How did IVF start and how has it changed over time?

IVF is not a new technology. Scientists started to experiment with it in the 1930s, using animals like rabbits and mice. The first human baby born from IVF was in 1978. The scientist who made this possible, Robert Edwards, won the Nobel Prize in 2010.

Since then, IVF has improved a lot. Now, doctors can freeze eggs and embryos and use them later. This gives people more options and flexibility to plan their pregnancies. Doctors can also test embryos for genetic diseases or defects before transferring them to the womb. This can reduce the risk of passing on inherited conditions or having a miscarriage.

The success rate of IVF depends on many factors, such as the age of the person, the reason for infertility, and the type of IVF used. Generally, younger people have a higher chance of having a baby with IVF than older people.

Who can access IVF in the U.S. and what are the barriers?

More and more people in the U.S. are using IVF to have babies. In 2015, about 2 out of every 100 babies were born from IVF. Most people support IVF and think it is a good option for people who need it.

However, not everyone who wants to use IVF can afford it or find it easily. About 10% of women in the U.S. have used some kind of fertility service, but many others do not have access to it.

Some of the reasons are:

Cost: IVF is very expensive. It can cost thousands of dollars for one cycle, and sometimes people need more than one cycle to have a baby. Most health insurance plans do not cover IVF or only cover part of it. Only a few states require insurance companies to pay for IVF.

Location: IVF is not available everywhere. Some states have more IVF clinics and doctors than others. For example, in 2021, more than 5% of babies in Massachusetts were born from IVF, but less than 1% in New Mexico, Arkansas, and Mississippi. People who live in rural areas or far from big cities may have to travel long distances to get IVF services.

Law: IVF is not regulated the same way in every state. Some states have laws that limit who can use IVF or how many embryos can be transferred or stored. Some states also have laws that give rights to embryos or fetuses, which can affect how IVF is done or what happens to unused embryos. For example, in February 2024, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that a person who donated sperm to a couple for IVF could sue for parental rights.

These barriers can make it harder for some people to have a baby with IVF. They can also create ethical and legal dilemmas for people who use IVF or work in the field. As IVF becomes more popular and advanced, these issues may become more important and complex.

Nathan Enzo
Nathan Enzo
A professional writer since 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication, Nathan Enzo ran the creative writing department for the major News Channels until 2018. He then worked as a Senior content writer with, including national newspapers, magazines, and online work. He specializes in media studies and social communications.


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