Today, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is practically a household word. But not so long ago, it was a mysterious procedure for infertility that produced what were then known as "test-tube babies." Louise Brown, born in England in 1978, was the first such baby to be conceived outside her mother's womb.
Unlike the simpler process of artificial insemination -- in which sperm is placed in the uterus and conception happens otherwise normally -- IVF involves combining eggs and sperm outside the body in a laboratory. Once an embryo or embryos form, they are then placed in the uterus. IVF is a complex and expensive procedure; only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.
If you are infertile, your doctor will go over your health history, medications, sexual history, and your sex habits, like how often you have sex.
Men will get a physical exam and often a sperm analysis, which tests the health of his sperm.
For women, testing begins with a medical history and physical exam, including a pelvic exam. The doctor then makes sure that she ovulates regularly and her ovaries are releasing the eggs. Blood tests are taken to measure hormone levels. The ovaries and uterus...