Artificial insemination in human involves introducing sperm (usually from a man not the husband of a woman) into the vagina or uterus, as if to mimic natural insemination (in vivo fertilization). The procedure is used when a woman with healthy eggs is unable to conceive with her man of choice (usually because he has deficient sperm). "Test tube" conception (in vitro fertilization or IVF) occurs when eggs and sperm are mixed in laboratory conditions outside a woman's body. After a few days' incubation, fertilized eggs are placed in the woman's uterus for pregnancy to continue as normal.
It is possible for the eggs to be of another woman (including an immature or unborn woman, although foetal eggs or eggs from sexually immature girls have not yet been used for this purpose). It is also possible, in the case of women with damaged ovaries (e.g. from cancer) or with premature menopause, that a donated piece of the egg-producing part of their ovaries could be stimulated to produce eggs by hormonal treatment in vitro. The donor eggs, when mature, could be fertilized and introduced into the woman's uterus. This raises the possibility of donation of ovarian tissue from dead women.
The first test-tube baby was born in England in 1978. Since then several IVF methods have been developed. Intra-fallopian transfer involves mixing sperm and egg in the laboratory and placing them in the fallopian tube, rather than the uterus. A more recent method used when sperm quality is poor is to inject sperm very precisely into the egg.
Scientists in Korea have produced a child from eggs taken from a dead woman.
In 1997 a British woman won an appeal under European law which gives her the right to be artificially inseminated using the sperm of her dead husband. He had not given his written consent.