Medical practice in the area of reproductive medicine

Who makes use of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or insemination? What types of testing are performed on embryos? How many births result from IVF treatments? Answers are provided by statistics from medical practice.

Married couples who are infertile or are carriers of a serious genetic disease have access to reproductive medicine. Essentially two types of assisted reproductive technique are available: insemination and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) followed by embryo transfer.

In the case of insemination, sperm cells are introduced into the uterus. The sperm cells are obtained either from the partner or from a sperm donor.

In the case of IVF, an oocyte is fertilised by a sperm cell outside the woman’s body. An embryo is thus produced in vitro and subsequently transferred to the uterus.

Types of testing

Before being transferred to the uterus, an embryo produced by IVF may undergo genetic testing, using techniques of preimplantation diagnosis (PID). In preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), the embryo is analysed for specific genetic defects (mutations) – PID in the narrow sense. In preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), the embryo is analysed for spontaneous chromosomal disorders (so-called aneuploidy screening).

PGD is used in cases where a couple is at risk of transmitting a serious genetic disease. With this technique, the parents can select an embryo not affected by the genetic disease for transfer to the uterus. PGS is used, in particular, in cases where a couple has already experienced several miscarriages or stillbirths, or several cycles of IVF have been unsuccessful. Screening is designed to increase the success rate of IVF treatment.

Another type of testing is polar body diagnosis. The polar body is a cell formed during oocyte maturation which quickly degenerates. Polar body diagnosis is mainly used to detect abnormalities of chromosome number in oocytes.

Presentation of results

The results of monitoring are published in the form of charts. These are divided into four sections, which can be found on the corresponding subpages:

Further information

Reproductive Medicine Act effectiveness review

The FOPH reviews the effectiveness of the Reproductive Medicine Act.

Legislative projects

The Federal Office of Public Health is responsible for the legal work related to reproductive medicine.

Parliamentary Motions

Since the Reproductive Medicine Act went into force in 2001, more than 30 parliamentary motions have been submitted on the topic.

Expert opinions and recommendations

Expert opinions and recommendations on the legal regulations governing reproductive medicine

Last modification 06.05.2021

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Division of Biomedicine
Biosafety, Human Genetics and Reproductive Medicine Section
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern
Tel. +41 58 463 51 54

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