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.
Stopping fertility treatments -- whether fertility drugs or an assisted reproductive technology -- can be a major issue for couples.
For couples that don't define the ''enough is enough'' point before embarking on the journey to pregnancy, these treatments may become addictive, with each new cycle bringing a flush of optimism. "Just one more cycle and then we'll stop" can go on for longer than the recommended cycle-length of the fertility drugs, and in some cases, for longer than two years -- an...