Infertility; Women's Health; Scientific American Presents; by Shaffer, Rosenwaks, Sauer; 4 Page(s)
Since 1978, when the first test-tube baby was born, infertility treatments have become widespread. Today 315 fertility clinics operate in the U.S., offering infertile women and men an array of expensive, high-tech procedures with acronyms like IVF (in vitro fertilization), GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer) and ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection). Aided by IVF and other procedures, 72,000 babies have been born in the U.S., according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and about 15 percent of American women have sought some type of infertility treatment. The increasing demand for infertility treatments has been partly spurred by the aging of the baby boom generation. About 6.1 million women in the U.S., or 10 percent of the women of reproductive age, are now infertile, compared with 4.9 million in 1988, as reported by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Nearly every advance in the treatment of infertility generates ethical dilemmas and controversy. Two pioneers in the field are ZEV ROSENWAKS, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Infertility at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, and MARK V. SAUER, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University and director of reproductive endocrinology at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. In the following interview, MARJORIE SHAFFER, special correspondent for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, talks to these doctors about the latest advances and dilemmas in the treatment of infertility.