Assisted reproductive treatment (ART), also known as assisted reproductive technology, refers to treatments used to assist people in achieving a pregnancy. ART covers a wide spectrum of treatments. Depending on the cause of infertility, the following types of treatment may be suggested.
Ovulation induction may be used by women who are not ovulating or are not ovulating regularly. Ovulation induction involves taking a hormone medication (tablet or injection), which stimulates the production of follicle-stimulating hormone. This encourages the development of one or more follicles. When the follicles are large enough, another hormone is administered which releases the egg from the follicle. If the couple has intercourse around this time, the chances of conception are greatly increased.
Artificial insemination, also known as intrauterine insemination (IUI), is used to treat women who have normal and healthy fallopian tubes, but for unknown reasons cannot conceive or due to mechanical difficulties with intercourse. It can also be used when semen has been frozen due to a male partner’s absence or prior to cancer treatment. The process of IUI involves insertion of semen through the female’s cervix and into the uterus at or just before the time of ovulation.
IVF is used in a range of circumstances to assist with conception but is often the only means of achieving pregnancy for women whose fallopian tubes are blocked. In IVF, the woman’s eggs are collected, along with sperm from the male partner or donor. The egg and sperm are left in a culture dish in the laboratory to allow the egg to be fertilised. If fertilisation occurs and an embryo develops, the embryo is then placed into the woman’s uterus in a procedure called an embryo transfer.
This treatment is done when a male partner does not produce sperm or there is a high risk of a man passing on a genetic disease or abnormality to a child. Donor insemination may also be used by single women and women in same-sex relationships. The process of donor insemination is the same as artificial insemination.
Treatment with donor eggs is possible if a woman cannot produce eggs or her eggs are of low quality. This may occur due to age or premature ovarian failure (where the woman no longer produces mature eggs for ovulation), a woman has experienced several miscarriages, or there is a high risk of the woman passing on a genetic disease or abnormality to a child.
Donor embryos can be used if a person or couple requires donor sperm and donor eggs to achieve a pregnancy. Although rare, some people choose to donate frozen embryos that they no longer need (after IVF procedures, for example) for use by others undergoing IVF. When the recipient woman is ready, embryos are thawed and transferred to her uterus.
ICSI is used for the same reasons as IVF, but especially to overcome sperm problems. Essentially, ICSI follows the same process as IVF, except ICSI involves the direct injection of a single sperm into each egg to achieve fertilisation.
Surrogacy is a form of ART in which a woman (the surrogate) carries a child for another person or couple with the intention of giving the child to that person or couple after birth. GarbhaGudi has a range of resources to assist you.