Assisted reproduction

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Artificial insemination (using the husband's semen) has been available from the late eighteenth century, and donor insemination since 1884. Its psychological effects on the marriage seem minimal; husbands rarely react with jealousy to the birth of the baby, any more than to an adopted child. The proof that the experience is acceptable is that it is often repeated. One of the principles of treatment is privacy, ensuring that donor and couple never meet and remain ignorant of each other's identity. It is felt that violating anonymity might compromise the marriage, since donor and mother are too deeply involved in procreation to regard their relationship with detachment; but times may be changing; nowadays couples often confide their involvement in donor insemination. The interests of the children also have to be considered; donor insemination obscures the genetic lineage, and they will never know their genetic history or be able to benefit from modern advances in genetics.

In vitro fertilization was first performed in 1978, and achieved with a donated oocyte in 1984. The success rate is low, and the procedure harrowing for those women who have exhausted all other options.

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