Are you planning to start a family but are facing some biological hitches? Have you spoken to infertility experts and gone for treatments? Have the treatments or procedures been inconclusive? Are you ready to try more and see what other options you have that go beyond the regular medical and surgical treatment options, even though it may be a bit more complex?
If you are prepared to go all the way with treatment to be able to try and conceive, ART, or Assisted Reproductive Technology could be an option that works for you. Read on to know all about the procedure and how it is carried out.
What Is Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)?
Assisted Reproductive Technology, ART, refers to the group of various methods, which help assist in fertility and conception issues. It refers to all those treatments that handle eggs or embryos outside the woman’s body. ART includes methods like IVF and others.
The ART helps remove the eggs from a woman’s body and combine them with sperm. The process occurs to help make embryos inside the woman’s body. In simple terms, assisted reproductive technology is also referred to as fertility treatment (1).
The various types of treatment options that come under the ART method are as follows:
- Intrauterine insemination
- In vitro fertilization
- Third party assisted ART
Is ART Successful In Treating Infertility?
The success rate of ART will depend on person to person and even couple to couple. Besides to the technology itself, there are few factors that can contribute to its success or lack from that point forward:
- The age of the couple
- The type of ART that is being used
- The underlying cause of infertility in the first place
- Whether the egg being used is a fresh one or frozen one
- Whether the embryo is fresh or frozen (2)
[ Read: Does Fertility Treatment Cause Cancer ]
Different Types Of Assisted Reproductive Technologies:
There are many types of ART treatments that are available today. Your doctor will first assess your overall health and the reason for your infertility, and decide on your mode of treatment. Here are some of the most common forms of ART:
1. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI):
In IUI, the sperm from the male body is placed inside the woman’s uterus with the help of a long and narrow tube.
- The method can be used safely in combination with any medication that is prescribed to aid ovulation and can sometimes also increase the chances of pregnancy.
- It is mostly used in cases where there is a scarring or defect in the cervix. If the male partner has a low sperm count or low mobility, erectile dysfunction, or retrograde ejaculation.
- In cases where IUI is performed each month with fresh or frozen sperm, the success rate shoots up by almost 20 percent, taking other factors into consideration.
[ Read: Symptoms Of IUI Pregnancy ]
2. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF):
In IVF, the egg and the sperm are taken out from the couple and incubated together in the laboratory to help make an embryo. Once the embryo is created, it is placed inside the female’s uterus where it can lead to a successful pregnancy.
IVF uses the following methods:
- Stimulating Egg Maturation: The process is also known as ovarian stimulation. The female has to take medication that will help to stimulate the ovaries and produce multiple mature eggs at once.
- Retrieving The Egg: Once the eggs are created, they are removed from the ovaries so that they can be fertilized.
- Fertilization: Sperm is checked in the semen sample, and if it is healthy, it is placed overnight along with the egg in an incubator. In most cases, fertilization will happen automatically, but sometimes a single sperm has to be injected into the egg if it does not happen naturally. Once the embryos are made, they are placed inside the uterus 1 to 6 days after the egg was retrieved.
- Transferring The Embryo: A long and thin tube is inserted into the vagina and to the uterus where the embryo is injected. After 6 to 10 days of retrieval, the embryo should be implanted in the uterine lining.
[ Read: Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) ]
3. Third Party ART:
Third Party ART is used when couples have tried most traditional assisted reproductive technology methods and infertility treatments but are still unable to get pregnant. The types of assistance options that are available through the Third Party ART process are:
1. Sperm Donation:
- In case the male partner does not produce enough sperm, or the sperm has a low count.
- Sperm donation will also be used if the male partner has a known genetic disease.
- The sperm that is donated is used with the help of IVF method or the IUI method.
[ Read: Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) ]
2. Egg Donation:
- In case the female partner does not produce eggs that are healthy and can be fertilized, an egg donation process is used.
- The person who will donate the eggs will be given medication to stimulate the ovary.
- The eggs will be retrieved using the steps of the IVF method.
- Once the donated egg is retrieved, it is fertilized using the sperm from the male partner.
- Once the embryo is created, it is placed back inside the carrier woman’s uterus.
- The egg donation method is especially helpful in case where a woman has been through chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
3. Surrogates And Gestational Carriers:
- In case a woman is not in a medical condition to carry a pregnancy to full term, a surrogate or gestational carrier can help.
- The surrogate woman will be inseminated with the sperm from the male partner. The baby who is born will biologically be born to the male partner and the surrogate mother. It is used when the female cannot produce healthy eggs that can be fertilized.
- A gestational carrier will be implanted with an embryo that is biologically not hers. It is a useful method when the female can produce healthy eggs but cannot carry the pregnancy to term (3).
[ Read: Gestational Surrogacy ]
Trying to conceive and going through various fertility treatments can be quite daunting, so make sure you constantly share your feelings with your partner as well as clear all your doubts with your doctor.
Have you used any of the methods we list above? Do you know anyone who opted for an ART procedure? Tell us about your stories, experiences, and doubts here.
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