According to a recent Popular Science article, scientists speculate that sex with reproduction as the goal may soon go out of style. Don’t get us wrong, sex itself will stick around, but thanks to advancements in embryology, our descendants who are actively trying to get pregnant may ditch traditional babymaking in favor of in vitro fertilization.
Sound crazy? Fertility treatments might not sound as fun as the regular method, but John Yovich, a doctor at PIVET Medical Centre and Cains Fertility Centre in Australia says that the former is a more effective means of having a child. Although IVF experiences a success rate of about 40 percent, Yovich and his colleagues insist that the technology will improve significantly over the next few years. His paper references a study done on the impregnation of cows. Ranchers already use artificial fertilization to create cattle offspring, as they found the process 100 times more reliable than when they released a bull into a herd of cows. Moreover, making test tube calves allows the ranchers to control things like the cow’s sex.
We see a few possible hitches in this plan. Human IVF treatments are nowhere near as effective as cow treatments, for example, and judging by the ethical debate, picking the sex of one’s offspring might not become mainstream practice. Then there’s the cost of IVF, which is affordable only to certain socioeconomic classes. We can’t imagine that couples who are already struggling to make a living will drop a few grand to get treated when they could just get it done naturally.
Yovich’s paper, titled "Can we perform better than nature?", asserts that yes, the lab produces babies more effectively than frisking around in the bedroom does; however, the replacement of procreative sex with IVF poses a cultural problem that science, despite all of its advances, might not be able to get past at this point. Sure, science may have completely revolutionized how society feels about religion, our place in the universe, and all sorts of lofty things like that, but we doubt whether it can render obsolete something so visceral, fundamental, and, well, human as sex.
Still, given the rising levels of male infertility, fertility treatments might become more commonplace, even necessary, than they are now. According to a scientist at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, the human race may be on its way to extinction. Recent findings that one in five healthy men between the ages of 18 – 25 produce abnormal sperm counts have led researchers to suggest that men could become totally infertile within the next two or three centuries. Granted, this hypothesis sounds like something B-grade Hollywood producers would have cooked up on a slow afternoon, but it’s not hard to imagine that future (way, way into the future) generations would be less concerned with romance than with continuing the human race.