Assisted reproductive techniques are the option available if medical treatment to achieve pregnancy fails.
In vitro fertilisation or IVF is a procedure in which sperm and eggs are joined outside a woman’s body. Women are given hormonal drugs to increase the development of eggs, and these eggs are collected from the ovaries by a minor surgical procedure.
The eggs are then mixed with sperm in a lab. One or more of those that get fertilised successfully are then transferred back to the woman’s uterus where they get implanted and proceed to normal pregnancy.
IVF can be performed using either eggs or sperm donated by a third party. Donor eggs are fertilised with the male partner’s sperm and the embryo transferred to the uterus of the female partner. This can also be done using donated sperm or embryo.
Surrogacy (gestational carrier): Another woman carries the embryo or donor embryo to term and gives birth to the baby.
Other ART procedures require surgery and each has a success rate similar to IVF.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT): In this procedure, eggs are combined with the partner’s sperm in a lab, then immediately inserted into the fallopian tubes through a small incision in the abdomen. Fertilization happens inside the body, and the embryo implants naturally.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT): In ZIFT, the eggs are fertilised with the partner’s sperm in a lab (as with GIFT). But in this procedure, the doctor waits until fertilization occurs before transferring the embryos to the fallopian tubes through a small incision in the abdomen.
Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET): Where an embryo that has been frozen (cryopreserved) is thawed and then transferred to the uterus/ fallopian tube of a woman with the aim of achieving a pregnancy.
ARTs do not treat the biological problems that give rise to infertility but circumvent them—most ARTs offer ways to create children despite underlying fertility problems.
ARTs sometimes require the use of reproductive resources—sperm, eggs, or wombs—from third parties who are not expected to play a role in raising the resulting children.
ARTs far and wide enable people regardless of age, sexual orientation, or marital status, to have genetically or biologically connected children.