hat is Biology Good For?
Helping A New Life Begin: In Vitro Fertilization

(This assignment is optional. Read this essay and answer the questions at the bottom for 3 extra credit points. You may only turn in one per six weeks. The assignment is due one week before the end of the six weeks. It is not necessary to visit the links in the text unless you are interested in more information.)

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a fertility procedure first succeeded in 1978 by the late British gynecologist Dr. Patrick Steptoe and his co-researcher, embryologist Robert Edwards. Since then, the procedure has been further developed and fertilization outside the human body is now available throughout the Western world. In fact, more than 300 centers in North America alone practice IVF and over 40,000 babies worldwide have been born after IVF. [Image]

What is in IVF?

Simply stated, IVF involves removing eggs from a woman, fertilizing them in the laboratory culture dish (the name "test-tube baby" is actually a misnomer) and then transferring the fertilized eggs - now called "zygotes" - into the uterus a few days later.

Ultrasound of Follicles

Egg with two pronuclei

Eight cell Pre-embryo

Preparation for IVF:

Egg Retrieval

Egg Fertilization:


The four basic steps to fertilization:

1. Egg's metabolism must be turned on.
2. One sperm must penetrate the egg.
3. A barrier, which keeps other sperm out, must be erected.
4. Nuclei and chromosomes form the egg and sperm must unite.




Embryo Transfer:

This "What is Biology Good For" was researched and written by IUPUI student Jennifer Manske, as part of an undergraduate research project.

IVF In Vitro Fertilization.
IVF.com In Vitro Fertilization.
IVF.com Photo Gallery.
In Vitro Fertilization.

The text of this "What is Biology Good For" exercise is copyrighted under the name of Dr. Kathleen A. Marrs, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003. There are no restrictions on its use by educators or by non-profit institutions as long as its content not modified, proper copyright acknowledgement is retained, and this statement is not removed.


Extra Credit Questions: Please answer the following questions on a piece of paper and turn it into me.

1. What happens to any surplus (extra) pre-embryos after IVF? List 1 possibility. (See p 4 in the link)
2. What is the
average cost (per mentrual cycle) for an IVF? (scroll down to find out!)
3. What is the
average success rate for IVF?