An Overview of Assisted Reproductive Technologies
- Posted on: Feb 5 2014
by Dr. Deborah Smith
Assisted reproductive technology, or ART, is there to help men and women that have difficulty with fertility. There are several different procedures depending on the difficulty level and type of infertility.
Intrauterine Insemination, or IUI, is where washed and concentrated sperm is placed directly into the uterus with a catheter, bypassing the cervix. This is one of the most common procedures done. It is first on the list for unexplained infertility, low sperm count, or cervical mucus problems. With endometriosis, this is also one of the procedures usually considered and performed by the fertility specialist.
In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is for people with pelvic or tubal damage or abnormality, as well as male infertility. This is the most common procedure performed with ART. What happens is, first the woman takes fertility drugs, to stimulate superovulation where she will produce several mature eggs at a time. Next, when the time is right, the eggs will be harvested and preserved until they are used. A sperm sample, donor or not, will be collected and combined with the eggs taken from the woman. Once the egg is fertilized, it is placed directly into the woman’s uterus where it will hopefully implant itself into the uterus wall.
ART with sperm donation is very similar to IVF. A sperm sample is collected and kept for six months frozen, before it is retested. This is to ensure that the sample is properly screened for HIV and other communal diseases. The sample will then be thawed and concentrated, after which, an IVF or IUI will be most likely performed.
ART with egg donation a good choice when the woman is infertile, or when she is unable to ovulate. The eggs are collected from the donor and preserved until use. Afterwards, the procedure is performed in a similar fashion to that of a sperm donor. The eggs will be combined with sperm and an IVF is performed.
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) is when the egg and sperm are placed directly into the fallopian tubes of the woman without being combined. This type of assisted reproductive technology can help women with endometriosis, men with low sperm count or motility, or those with sperm antibody problems. GIFT is similar to IVF except the eggs are placed in the fallopian tubes.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer or ZIFT is similar to GIFT but the egg and sperm are combined before being placed into the fallopian tube. This can only be performed if the woman’s fallopian tube is healthy.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is when an egg and sperm are collected. A single sperm is then injected into the egg. The fertile egg is then placed in either the woman’s fallopian tube or uterus. This would assists those who have difficulty with fertilization.
Surrogacy is when another woman gets pregnant for the infertile woman. The surrogate woman has an IUI or similar procedure performed. The woman carries the baby full term, and when the child is born, he or she is given to the parents. In gestational surrogacy, the other woman has your egg and partner’s sperm placed inside her uterus or fallopian tubes.
These examples of assisted reproductive technology are only a few of the ways a woman can conceive. Lifestyle changes and alternative therapy also can assist with fertility, such as dietary changes, acupuncture, homeopathy, relaxation techniques, and mind-body medicine.
When considering an ART procedure, a fertility doctor should always be consulted, as not every procedure is good for every case. Some people will need fertility drugs along with these procedures. Be sure to write down concerns, fears, and hopes before visiting the fertility specialist. ART has come a long way since the very beginning. Now, percentages of pregnancy are much higher. If one procedure doesn’t work, there may be another that can be considered. The doctor will be able to explain everything in greater detail. Everything should be taken with great consideration, as there are risks with everything.
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