Types of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

on Mar 23, 2013

by Dr. Karen Leham, MD

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Types of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

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Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)

Ovulation disorder is the main reason why female infertility is caused and male infertility is caused due to low sperm mobility and low sperm count. However, there are ways to overcome infertility, both male and female, and to have babies. One of the best methods is ART or Assisted Reproductive Technology. This technology is specifically for couples that are not able to conceive and want a baby. Depending on the situation, a male donor or a female donor or both male and female donors may also be used in this technology. ART has been quite successful in the recent years and about 30,000 babies are born each year in U.S. through this technology. That accounts to about 1% of the total births in the country. There are many different types of ART and some of them have been expounded as follows.

In Vitro Fertilization

Commonly called IVF, In Vitro Fertilization may be extremely expensive but it is also the oldest type and the most common type of ART today. It was back in 1983 that the first baby was born through IVF. This miracle occurred in England and since then a number of babies have been born through this method. In this procedure, the female is first given drugs to enhance her fertility so that she produces not just the usual one egg, but a multitude of eggs. After the eggs are produced, they are taken. Alongside, the male’s sperm are taken and the two are fertilized together under laboratory conditions. Once the eggs fertilize and reach a particular stage of development such as the embryo stage, they are transferred into the uterus of the woman. In order to increase the odds, more than one embryo is taken. The success rate of this procedure is about 25%.

Embryo Cryopreservation

As several eggs are taken for IVF procedure, the couple has the choice to have a few of these eggs frozen. These eggs can be reused if the first cycle of IVF unfortunately fails. The second time thus, fertility drugs are not needed. A few couples may use them even after a successful cycle for more babies. By doing this, the costs of treatments can be reduced because each cycle of IVF, if done from scratch, can actually cost a lot of money.

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection

Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection or ICSI is the procedure in which a sperm is injected into the woman’s egg on purpose. The protocol of this procedure is similar to IVF but the difference is that here only a single sperm is required. The success rate of this procedure is only 20%. This is the ideal method when the reason behind inability to conceive is male infertility caused by low sperm count or motility.

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer

Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer or GIFT is actually an alternative to in vitro fertilization. The first few stages are similar to IVF but here, the fertilization occurs within the body. That means that under laboratory conditions, the egg and sperm are only fused and immediately transferred into the woman’s body. The success rate is about 24%.

ZIFT

This one boasts of being the most successful ART procedure with the success rate being 29%. This is actually an amalgamation of IVF and GIFT. The eggs are only fertilized in the lab and not left to develop. They are transferred to the fallopian tube for development so that they travel to the uterus on their own accord.

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Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.

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