Infertility is characterized as the inability of a couple to become pregnant after having one year of ‘unprotected sexual intercourse’. Pregnancy is the outcome of the union of a healthy egg and sperm. Following conditions are mandatory for viable pregnancy to occur:
- Egg should be released from one of the woman’s ovaries
- The sperm of the man should meet the egg and fertilize it
- The fertilized egg must travel to the uterus from the fallopian tube
- The fertilized egg or embryo should implant itself in the wall of the uterus
If the any of the above mentioned steps are not completed properly then pregnancy cannot happen.
What Is Assisted Reproductive Technology or ART?
ART or assisted reproductive technology involves specialized fertility treatments where both sperms and eggs are treated, rather, fertilized in-vitro usually in a Petri dish in laboratory. The woman’s eggs are removed from the ovaries and are fertilized by male’s sperms in laboratory. The zygote is then placed back into the woman’s uterus for implantation and further development.
The success of assisted reproductive technology is dependent upon-
- The age of the female undergoing the process
- The set up where the procedure is being done
- The diagnosis of infertility
- The quality of sperm
If even after seeking medical and surgical infertility treatment, a woman does not become pregnant, she then will have to opt for more complicated and specialized techniques known as ART. ART includes:
- IUI or intrauterine Insemination
- IVF or in vitro fertilization
- Third party mediated ART sperm donation-
- Egg donation
- Gestational carriers
What Are The Different Types Of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)?
The different kinds of assisted reproductive techniques are listed below:
- IVF or in vitro fertilization: IVF refers to fertilization that happens outside the body of the woman. This is the most common type of ART. IVF is mostly done in case of blockage of woman’s fallopian tube or when the sperm count of husband is low.
The steps of in vitro fertilization include-
- Stimulation of maturation of egg
- Retrieval of egg
- Embryo transfer
- ZIFT or zygote intra-fallopian transfer or tubal embryo transfer: ZIFT is quite identical to IVF except for the fact that in ZIFT the embryo at a very young stage are transferred into the fallopian tube instead of the woman’s uterus
- GIFT or gamete intra-fallopian transfer: This type of ART includes transfer of sperms and eggs in the woman’s fallopian tube so that instead of external environment, the fertilization occurs in the woman’s own body
- ICSI or intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection: This technique is done for those infertile couples where there is some problem with male fertility or who have a history of failed IVF attempts. In ICSI a viable single sperm is injected into the mature egg and the egg is fertilized
- Surrogacy: If a female is not having viable and healthy eggs and is unable to conceive she might opt for surrogacy. In surrogacy second or donor woman legally agrees to become pregnant with the sperm of the first woman’s husband. Genetically speaking the born child belongs to the male partner and the surrogate mother. The surrogate mother is given heavy amount of compensation for bringing the child in the world. You can read more on surrogacy here
- Opting For A Gestational Carrier: If a woman has some health issue sand is unable to carry fetus in her uterus or has ovaries but no uterus, then the available option is to seek the help of a gestational carrier. The egg of the original mother is fertilized by her husband’s sperms and the embryo is then placed inside the uterus of the carrier woman
Here, in this case the gestational carrier is in no way related to the child.
The Technique Of IUI To Treat In-fertilization
IUI or intrauterine insemination or the artificial insemination is the process involving insertion of ‘specially treated sperms’ in the woman’s uterus. The woman is often cured with special medicines before undergoing IUI in order to stimulate the process of ovulation. IUI is commonly done for:
- Treating male infertility
- Cases of unexplained infertility
ART is a costly process yet it is a blessing in disguise for those couple who are unable to conceive. A common complication associated with ART is multiple pregnancies. It however can be evaded by transplanting limited number of embryos in the woman’s uterus.