Assisted reproductive technologies, or ART, are fertility procedures in which the sperm and eggs are manipulated to create embryos. Most of these procedures involve the removal of eggs from the woman, which are combined with sperm in some manner and eventually returned to the woman's body after embryos are created or to create embryos.
These procedures have helped couples around the world conceive and overcome infertility at all ages. Women who are older than 35 may see lower success rates than younger women, although many women above 35 have found success. Those who are interested are encouraged to seek consultation with a specialist to go over their options and determine which his right for them, as varying circumstances may call for different treatments.
One of the most popular types of assisted reproductive technology is called in vitro fertilization, or IVF. This procedure involves the combination of sperm and eggs in a dish in a laboratory to create embryos. The embryos are then transferred to the woman's uterus where they may implant in the uterine wall and develop. Women may be given fertility medication to help produce multiple eggs in a single cycle.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer, or ZIFT, (this may also be called tubal embryo transfer-TET) is a procedure in which eggs are removed and fertilized using sperm from the male in a laboratory like IVF. The difference in the two procedures is that the embryos are then transferred to the fallopian tubes rather than the uterus. Laparoscopy is used to make the transfer.
Finally, another type of ART is called gamete intrafallopian transfer, or GIFT. Women are often given hormones to stimulate egg production. Eggs are removed and sperm is collected and the unfertilized eggs and the sperm are then placed in the fallopian tubes. Unlike ZIFT, fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes rather than in the laboratory.
Before undergoing any type of assisted reproductive technology procedure, couples or individuals who are interested should first consult a specialist regarding their possible success rates. These may vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. One other subject to discuss is the possible risks associated with these procedures. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a study that indicated babies born resulting from ART procedures are two to four times more likely to have certain birth defects. The risk is still low, but it is something that should be discussed with a physician.