Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Taking in Vitro out of Fertilization

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Taking in Vitro out of Fertilization

Article excerpt

In vitro fertilization has offered infertile couples new hope for giving birth to a child. Despite acceptance of IVF as a procedure, personal and religious objections have been raised concerning its "extracorporeal" aspect A new method of fertilization, intravaginal culture (IVC), allows fertilization to occur in vivo, with normal sexual activity occurring concurrently, if desired. In IVC, following ovulation induction and oocyte retrieval, the oocytes are identified and consolidated into a tiny tube filled completely with culture medium. After the oocytes sink to the bottom of the tube, a sample of 30,000 to 60,000 motile spermatozoa are added to the top of the tube, and the tube is then hermetically sealed. It is then wrapped tightly in a special envelope to prevent vaginal contamination, and inserted into the vagina where it is kept in place next to the cervix by a diaphragm. Everyday activities can proceed unimpeded, and at the same time fertilization occurs within the woman's body (in vivo).

Two days later, the tube is removed and the contents poured into a petri dish. Up to four fertilized embryos can then be transferred into the uterus. Over 500 cases using this technique have been performed, with results comparable to IVF, i.e. a birth rate per oocyte of 13.5 percent (Claude Ranoux et aL, "A New In Vitro Fertilization Technique: Intravaginal Culture," Fertility and Sterility 49 [1988]], 654). Experience with this process has furnished several significant results. From a biological perspective, since sperm concentrations in IVF are usually much higher than those in IVC, the IVC technique proves that a relatively low volume of motile sperm are capable of achieving fertilization. …

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