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.
When you and your partner are trying to have a baby, you'll hear a lot of advice that's geared to the mom-to-be: Take prenatal vitamins, don't drink alcohol, say no to sushi, and get plenty of rest. But did you know a dad's health at conception can affect the baby's health as well?
"Many men may not realize that the health of their sperm is just as important as the health and viability of a woman's egg," says Joseph Garza, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Advanced Fertility Center in...