Assisted Reproduction

Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are usually used to treat infertility. One of the most common technologies is in vitro fertilization (IVF), an ART procedure in which sperm and eggs are joined outside the body, and the resulting embryo is transferred to a uterus in an effort to establish a pregnancy. Surrogacy is another form of assisted reproduction that involves a woman who agrees, as a third party, to be impregnated with, gestate, and deliver the embryo of another couple or person, often in exchange for payment.

Although ARTs help some people find new avenues to have the children they’ve always wanted, they can pose significant safety risks that are often overlooked. For instance, extracting eggs from the body typically involves taking hormonal drugs to promote the simultaneous development of multiple eggs. This is true whether the eggs are for one’s own IVF treatment, for someone else’s, or to provide materials for researchers. Yet evidence about the severity and extent of risks from egg retrieval is widely recognized as inadequate. A common short-term risk is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is often a mild reaction, but it can become serious enough to require hospitalization and, in rare cases, can cause death.

There is also strong concern about the common imbalances of power among the parties involved in assisted reproduction, particularly because policies pertaining to third-party assisted reproduction vary widely. Some jurisdictions prohibit surrogacy while others limit compensation to expenses and lost wages. In a number of U.S. states and a few other areas, surrogacy is permitted as a market transaction, often with little or no oversight. This has led some prospective parents to leave their own countries in order to avoid regulations or to save money, a phenomenon known as “cross-border reproductive care” or “reproductive tourism.” 


Aggregated News

When patients come to Dr. Molly Quinn for infertility treatments, they usually aren't too interested in hearing about the possible downsides, she says. They just want to get pregnant.

Still, she always discusses the risks. For example, there's an increased...

Aggregated News

Scientists say they have taken a potentially important — and possibly controversial — step toward creating human eggs in a lab dish.

A team of Japanese scientists turned human blood cells into stem cells, which they then transformed into very...

Aggregated News

Updated on December 4 at 10:55 a.m. ET.

Before last week, few people had heard the name He Jiankui. But...

Aggregated News

Vardit Ravitsky is an associate professor of bioethics at the University of Montreal.

Sarah Kimmins is an associate professor at...

An old medical drawing shows 7 individual sperm overlapping one another.

Aggregated News

15 colored pencils stand upright spanning the color spectrum from yellow to green to blue to indigo to red to orange to brown to gray.

Aggregated News

A train sits stopped in a Beijing train station.

Aggregated News

A close up shot of a lab microscope with one of three focal heads pointed at a piece of glass and sample below.

Aggregated News

A wideshot of the inside of a surgery staging area, with the various clinical stations set up, but no persons visible.

Aggregated News

A scientific illustration of the HIV-1 virus and the CCR5 gene.

Aggregated News

A close-up on a hand with a pen writing on pieces of paper on a desk.

Aggregated News