Cheryl was twenty-seven, and her husband Jeff was twenty-eight when they found out that Cheryl had a fertility problem. After nine months of trying to get pregnant, Cheryl recalls that "in my heart, I knew something was wrong."" When she went to the doctor for an examination in September of 1986, she was told that her fallopian tubes were closed. The anxious couple immediately chose to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF); therefore, the procedure started in June of 1987. Finally, thirty-six days after the procedure began, a pregnancy test proved that Cheryl was pregnant. (Wisot and Meldrum 137).
They are one of more than two million couples in the United States that seek help for infertility every year. Infertility is "the absence of conception after six months to a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse-, as defined by Kara Williams (9). Infertility can be caused by a number of things: irregular ovulation, tubal blockages, endometriosis, drug use, stress, inappropriate body weight, low sperm count or motility, damage by infections, and blocked vas deferens. In addition, about 15% of couples have unexplained infertility, in which no cause can be found (Williams 22). Aware of the high rates of infertility, doctors have come up with a new wave of technology called assisted reproductive technology (ART).
ART involves the usage of eggs and sperm. Specifically, the eggs are surgically removed from a woman's ovaries, fertilized by sperm, then put back into the woman or donated to another woman. ART does not include artificial insemination "in which only sperm is used "or the use of fertility drugs without the intention of egg retrieval. ART procedures available in clinics include: IVF, GIFT, ZIFT, PROST, and TE(S)T. "Although ART is a wonderful option for couples who can't conceive,"" the process is actually "difficult and stressful and requires a committed and emotionally stable couple- (Rosenthal 205).