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Model of an egg surrounded by sperm, and illuminated by a light angled from above.

Scientists are trying to manufacture eggs and sperm in the laboratory. Will it end reproduction as we know it?

Let’s call him B.D., because that’s what his wife does on her infertility blog, Shooting Blanks. Several years ago, the 36-year-old learned he was azoospermatic. It means his body makes no sperm at all.

During a recent phone interview, I could hear his wife in the background. She is 35 and facing what she describes as a terrifying countdown toward a life with no children. “Being childless can’t be my destiny, it just can’t be,” she wrote on her blog.

So far, B.D.’s case of infertility has proved untreatable, despite years of pills, vitamins, and a major surgery. But he may still have a long-shot chance at being a father. In 2012, B.D. traveled to Stanford University, where a technician performed a skin punch, removing a small disk of tissue from his shoulder. With a technique called “reprogramming,” his skin cells were converted into stem cells that have the potential to mature into various types of human cells. These were then... see more