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Catheter used in the process of IVF, Europe, 1999

Catheter used in the process of IVF, Europe, 1999

Credits: Science Museum

Fertilised eggs are implanted into the womb using a catheter. The equipment is essential in IVF (in vitro fertilisation). IVF helps couples with fertility problems conceive a child. IVF was pioneered in the UK in 1978. It is controversial. It is expensive and invasive. Only a low percentage of procedures result in a successful live birth. There is also a higher chance of multiple births causing risk to both mother and foetuses. Opponents of IVF argue unused embryos are used for experimentation. This raises issues of human rights as well as when an embryo becomes a human being.

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Glossary: catheter

A flexible tube, narrow enough to be inserted into the body, where it is used for withdrawing fluids. Most typically used for extracting urine from the bladder.