Assisted Reproductive Technology: The ART of Getting Pregnant
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a high-tech means of making a baby that is used by many. If you and your partner are dealing with infertility problems, ART may help you get pregnant.
Assisted reproductive technology procedures, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), specialize in the handling of both eggs and sperm. This separates ART from other fertility treatments, such as insemination, where only the sperm is handled.
Over the past decade, ART has been greatly simplified. For instance, egg retrieval with IVF can be done in a doctor’s office using ultrasound, instead of at a hospital with general anesthesia and laparoscopic surgery.
Types of ART
Assisted reproductive technology procedures include the following:
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the oldest and most widely used form of ART. With IVF, your retrieved eggs are fertilized outside your body in a laboratory setting where they are mixed with your partner’s sperm. After 3 to 5 days, 1 or more healthy embryos are implanted in your uterus.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), also called Tubal Embryo Transfer, is similar to IVF as fertilization of the egg happens in the lab. Yet with ZIFT, the embryo is transferred to the fallopian tube – not to your uterus.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) is a process where your eggs/follicles are aspirated during laparoscopy and the unfertilized oocytes are placed in your fallopian tube along with a sample of unprepared sperm. This assisted reproductive technology allows fertilization to occur naturally inside your body (not outside in a lab setting). This makes it more similar to the way a naturally fertilized egg would start its journey to the uterus for implantation. Any remaining eggs following the GIFT transfer may be inseminated with sperm in a laboratory dish and the resulting embryos can be frozen.
Combination ART cycle. This assisted reproductive technology cycle may include IVF with ZIFT or GIFT.
ART or science?
While many clinics report reasonably strong ART success rates, your chances of becoming pregnant and having a live birth with ART are directly related to key factors outside of the fertility clinic’s control, including:
- Your age
- The cause of your fertility problems
- The number of children you already have
Studies show that very few women under age 25 use ART, and very few women over age 45 undergo ART procedures with their own eggs.
Talk with your doctor about ART
No matter what your age is, or what type of fertility problems you have, fertility specialists can help you and make recommendations about which fertility treatments (fertility drugs or procedures) might help you conceive. With all the new breakthroughs in assisted reproductive technology, your doctor can assess your fertility problems and make recommendations to maximize your chances of pregnancy.
- American Society of Reproductive Medicine: Selecting an ART Program
- MedlinePlus: In vitro fertilization: IVF
- CDC: Assisted Reproductive Technology American Society of Reproductive Medicine: Selecting an ART Program Assisted Reproductive Technologies: A Guide for Patients
- CDC: 2006 Assisted Reproductive Technology Report: Home
- INCIID: New Developments in Assisted Reproductive Medicine