Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is the use of reproductive technology to treat infertility. This is today the only application of reproductive technology to increase reproduction that is used routinely. Examples include in vitro fertilization and its possible expansions.
Reproductive technology also includes methods to give an individual prognosis about future chances of pregnancy, facilitating an informed choice of family planning. In women, such methods include mapping of a woman's ovarian reserve, follicular dynamics and associated biomarkers. In males, it includes semen analysis.
Contraception is a form of reproductive technology that enables people to control their fertility.
The following techniques, in contrast to ART, are not yet routinely used. In fact, most of them are even at the developmental stage:
Same-sex procreation (where two females could have a daughter with equal genetic contributions from both, or where two males could have a son or daughter with equal genetic contributions from both) has become a possibility through the creation of either female sperm or male eggs from the cells of adult women and men. With female sperm and male eggs, lesbian and gay couples wishing to become parents would not have to rely on a third party donor of sperm or egg.
The first significant development occurred in 1991, in a patent application filed by U.Penn. scientists to fix male sperm by extracting some sperm, correcting a genetic defect in vitro, and injecting the sperm back into the male's testicles. While the vast majority of the patent application dealt with male sperm, one line suggested that the procedure would work with XX cells, i.e., cells from an adult woman to make female sperm.
In the two decades that followed, the idea of female sperm became more of a reality. In 1997, scientists partially confirmed such techniques by creating chicken female sperm in a similar manner. They did so by injecting blood stem cells from an adult female chicken into a male chicken's testicles. Some years later, other Japanese scientists created female offspring by combining the eggs of two adult mice.
In 2008, research was done specifically for methods on creating human female sperm using artificial or natural Y chromosomes and testicular transplantation. A UK-based group predicted they would be able to create human female sperm within five years.
Also, ethical issues of human enhancement arise when reproductive technology has evolved to be a potential technology for not only reproductively inhibited people but even for otherwise reproductively healthy people.
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