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Assisted Reproductive Technology
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Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) are procedures in which the woman’s eggs are removed from the ovaries, or donor eggs are used, and they are fertilized with sperm in a laboratory. The fertilized embryo is transferred into the woman’s uterus. Many couples move on to ART after three to six unsuccessful cycles of artificial insemination. Donor eggs are recommended for women who have ovarian failure, diminished egg production or genetically transmittable diseases. Ninety-eight percent of ART procedures are in vitro fertilization (IVF), which use the mother’s own eggs.

This procedure is considered minor surgery. Mild painkillers may be prescribed for use during the procedure and with post-procedure discomfort. Other options include abdominal ultrasound guidance, where a hollow needle with ultrasound guidance is inserted through the abdomen or laparoscopy. If a donor egg is used, this step is skipped. When a donor egg is used, many of the same issues of sperm donors need to be considered. Risks associated with IVF include multiple births, problems associated with egg collection, ectopic pregnancy and the failure of the treatment.

Surgery is another option for ART that can be useful in overcoming some causes for infertility. Obviously, surgery is used to reverse tubal ligation or vasectomy in both men and women. In men, surgery is used to correct blockage of the reproductive tract or to correct sperm-blocking varicolceles (dilated veins in the scrotum). In women, surgery is intended to correct blockage of fallopian tubes and to remove growths from the reproductive tract.

Invasive procedures such as zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) are rarely performed today. Before in vitro fertilization (IVF) became highly successful, these more invasive procedures were used. Now, IVF is so effective and has such low risk that it is the most common and recommended form of ART.

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