In vitro fertilization is also known as IVF, or sometimes as the "test tube baby" method. Performed for the first time in 1978, it has already helped bring 3 million babies into the world. It consists of fertilization (union of a sperm and an ovum) in a laboratory, which is where the name "in vitro" comes from.

Since it was first performed successfully in England in 1978, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has been used in reproduction clinics and hospitals all over the world. It is estimated that in the last 30 years, over 3 million children have been born with the help of this technique. The treatment is made up of various stages: Initially, a woman is given hormones called gonadotropins. These medications aim to increase and mature a larger amount of ova than normally obtained in a natural cycle. In a spontaneous cycle a woman usually releases 1 egg. This treatment phase lasts approximately 7 to 14 days.

Fertilization is done by embryologists in a laboratory, on the same day the gametes (eggs and sperm) are collected. Since the sperm joins with the ova outside of the human body, the technique is called "in vitro".

In the subsequent days, embryo development is evaluated. 5 days after fertilization, 1 or 2 embryos are placed in the woman's uterus, a stage called "embryo transfer". The number of embryos placed varies from case to case. Usually, 1 to 4 embryos are placed. When more than 1 embryo is inserted, there is an increased chance of pregnancy and giving birth to twins.

See the stages of the process

The pregnancy test (blood assay of beta-hCG hormone) is done 11 to 14 days after the transference. The chances of a couple getting pregnant depend on various factors. These include a woman's age, the quality of the embryos obtained, the cause of infertility, etc.

Development research on children born through in vitro fertilization has identified a rate of abnormalities (malformations) similar to the general population (1% to 3%).