IVF stands for In Vitro Fertilization, as in "test tube baby", although it's actually done in something more like a petri dish. In IVF, the egg and sperm (actually several eggs with several sperms) are manually combined in a laboratory dish. When the combination succeeds, the embryo is then transferred and manually placed in a woman's uterus. If the transfer is successful, the women becomes pregnant, and if the pregnancy goes well, a baby is eventually born.
It sounds straight forward, but anyone who has been through it will tell you it is an arduous process, involving the woman taking fertility medication, her eggs being montiored and collected - apart from the man, the man being sexually stimulated so he can ejaculate and his sperm can be collected - apart from the woman, and then the attempt to combine the eggs and sperm in a laboratory dish. Ultrasounds and blood tests are involved. Timing is critical. When one attempt fails, the couple has to try again, and usually again, and again.
The process sounds lonely and sterile to me, but compared to being childless for the rest of one's life, I can see that IVF would be attractive to many couples, including Catholic couples. The problem is that IVF goes against natural law and Catholic teachings on procreation. It is considered to be a grave evil and not a viable solution to the problem of infertility.
So not everyone is happy about the Nobel Prize for Medicine going to Robert G. Edwards for IVF back in October. I will discuss the Church's teachings in one of my next entries. Please stay tuned.
image - http://www.americanpregnancy.org/infertility/ivf.html