What Is Assisted Reproductive Technology

Sometimes a couple can’t get pregnant by themselves. They need the assistance of a trained medical professional and medical technology designed to aid fertility. These procedures are collectively called assisted reproductive technology (ART) and it has helped thousands of couples conceive.

What exactly is assisted reproductive technology? It is a process that removes the egg and the sperm from a couple and combines them in the laboratory to increase fertilization. If the reproductive system of the hosts is causing problems, removing the elements of conception from that environment can change the fertility dynamics.

Assisted reproductive technology involves more than one procedure being tried to achieve pregnancy. It has benefited couples with issues revolving around ovulation, ejaculation, fallopian tube dysfunction and for those with no definitive cause.

1. In vitro fertilization – You may have heard of this procedure. The actual fertilization of the egg takes place in a lab setting. Several eggs are removed from the ovaries along with many sperm from your partner. The sperm is prepped and then placed with the eggs for fertilization. Once the eggs are fertilized, they are returned to the uterus for implantation. It is hoped that at least one egg will implant.

2. Gamete intrafallopian transfer – It sounds like a Star Trek term but it involves removing the egg and sperm from the body, mixing them and reinserting them into the woman. The eggs and sperm are inserted into the fallopian tubes so that fertilization can occur inside the body.

3. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection – When the issue is the sperm, this procedure can be performed. One sperm is used to fertilize one egg from the woman. The fertilized egg is watched for a few days and allowed to begin the development process outside of the body. When the time is right, the fertilized egg is injected into the womb for implantation.

4. Zygote intrafallopian transfer – Here, fertilization occurs outside the body as with in vitro fertilization. A sampling of eggs and sperm are mixed together. Once the egg is fertilized it is reinserted into the fallopian tube much like gamete intrafallopian transfer.

The sperm and egg used in the process are not always straight from the man or woman. The eggs may have been removed before and frozen for later procedures in case there are problems. In vitro fertilization is the most popular and successful of the assisted reproductive technologies. If it does not work, other technologies are tried.

In the event that pregnancy is not achieved, donor eggs or sperm may be used. That decision is up to the couple as to how far they will go with these procedures.

Assisted reproductive technology has helped thousands of couples achieve parenthood. There are four methods to use and your doctor will discuss with you which one has the best chance of success.