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In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a process in which the woman egg is fertilized artificially by male sperm outside the human body. IVF process generally involves monitoring and stimulating a woman's ovulatory system whereby ovum or ova (woman egg or eggs) from the ovaries are removed and allowed to be fertilized by man sperm in a fluid medium in laboratory. The fertilized egg also called zygote is then cultured for 2 to 6 days in a special growth controlled medium and the same is then implanted into either the same or another woman's uterus.
IVF techniques are employed in a variety of situations in assisting reproductive treatment of infertility. IVF is used to overcome both female and male infertility, in female when infertility is due to problems with the fallopian tubes and when making fertilization in vivo is difficult. In male cases where infertility is due to defect in sperm quality and/or sperm quantity, in such cases intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) may be used. The Sperm of partner's or a donor's sperm is collected and is injected directly into the egg cell, this technique is generally used when sperm have difficulty penetrating the egg and/or when sperm count are very low.
IVF techniques are also employed in gestational surrogacy, in which the fertilized egg is implanted into a surrogate's uterus, and the resulting child is genetically unrelated to the surrogate mother.
Theoretically, in vitro fertilization (IVF) could be performed by collecting woman’s egg either from the fallopian tubes or uterus after natural ovulation, mixing it with male sperm, and reinserting the fertilized ova into the uterus. However this technique is not as simple as it sounds and without additional techniques, the chances of pregnancy would be extremely low. Additional techniques that are routinely used in IVF include ovarian hyperstimulation to generate multiple eggs or ultrasound-guided transvaginal oocyte retrieval directly from the ovaries after which the ova and sperm are prepared, as well as culture and selection of resultant embryos before embryo transfer into a woman’s uterus.
Due to the costs of the procedure, IVF is generally attempted only after less expensive alternate infertility treatment options have been exhausted.