John Hunter studied human reproductive anatomy, and in eighteenth century England, performed one of the earliest described cases of artificial insemination. Hunter dissected thousands of animals and human cadavers to study the structures and functions of organ systems. Much of his anatomical studies focused on the circulatory, digestive, and reproductive systems. He helped to describe the exchange of blood between pregnant women and their fetuses. Hunter also housed various natural collections, as well as thousands of preserved specimens from greater than thirty years of anatomy work. Hunter's work developed practices in reproductive and reparative surgery and furthered the study of human anatomy and physiology.

A test-tube baby is the product of a successful human reproduction that results from methods beyond sexual intercourse between a man and a woman and instead utilizes medical intervention that manipulates both the egg and sperm cells for successful fertilization. The term was originally used to refer to the babies born from the earliest applications of artificial insemination and has now been expanded to refer to children born through the use of in vitro fertilization, the practice of fertilizing an embryo outside of a woman's body. The use of the term in both media and scientific publications in the twentieth century has been accompanied by discussion as well as controversy regarding the ethics of reproduction technologies such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. The evolution of these terms over time mirrors the perception of our ability to manipulate the human embryo, as seen by the general public as well as the scientific community.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI), also known as artificial insemination, is one of the earliest and simplest assisted reproductive technologies (ART). With this technique, sperm from either a partner or donor (such as from a sperm bank) is inserted with a syringe into the woman's vagina during ovulation to increase the probability that fertilization will occur and lead to pregnancy. This procedure is most effective for couples with male fertility problems, such as impotence, though it is also used to treat idiopathic (of unknown cause) infertility, vaginismus (wherein the female involuntarily constricts her vagina), and hostile female cervical mucus that rejects the male's sperm. In the 1940s and 1950s cryopreservation facilitated the preservation of sperm through freezing methods for later use, such as in IUI.

“Test-tube baby” is a term used to refer to a baby produced through artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization, also called IVF. During artificial insemination, a physician injects carefully selected sperm into a women’s uterus to fertilize her eggs. During IVF, a trained professional harvests eggs from a female donor. Those eggs are fertilized with carefully selected sperm in a petri dish.

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