In vitro fertilization (Latin: in vitro, "in glass") [1] is a standard method in reproductive medicine by which an egg is fertilized by sperm outside the body. This technique is also called artificial insemination or fertilization. The first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, was born in 1978 in Great Britain. Today, IVF is a method chosen in case of an unfulfilled wish for a child. [2]

The process involves stimulating a woman's ovaries with sexual hormones in order to ripen more ova (eggs). They are then removed from the body by transvaginal oocyte retrieval and fertilized by sperm in a test tube ("in vitro"). After two to five days, the fertilized egg(s) is (are) implanted into the woman's uterus (embryo transfer), with the intention of establishing a successful pregnancy[2] [3] [4]

One possible dangerous side-effect of IVF is the development of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which affects around 5% of women. Due to an excessive stimulation of the ovaries by hormones, this syndrome is characterized by ovarian enlargement and an acute fluid shift into abdomen. Complications of OHSS include stomachache, feeling of tension, nausea, vomiting and dyspnea. [2] [5]

Often, more than one embryo is inserted into the uterus in order to increase the success rate, especially in case of previous failed attempts. Consequential multiple pregnancies pose a higher threat on the mother and her unborn children and might result in miscarriages, premature births or growth failures. [6] [7]

IVF can also put a strain on a relationship. On the one hand, check-ups and procedures might take several years and thus be hardly compatible with a working life and on the other hand, mood swings between joy, hope and disappointment might become an emotional strain on the relationship. These factors reduce life quality and health which again reduces the success rate. [8]