Having a baby is a happy occasion that many couples look forward to. However, some couples need help to conceive. About 10% of Americans of reproductive age have problems with infertility.
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a term used for all treatments or procedures that involve manipulation of human eggs and sperm for the purpose of establishing a pregnancy. Couples interested in ART should consult their doctor to discuss all the factors that may affect the rate of success in their particular case.
Infertility is a condition of the reproductive system that impairs the ability to conceive children. A variety of complicated factors determine whether a couple can successfully conceive.
Approximately a third of infertility cases can be attributed to factors that affect the man, a third to factors that affect the woman, and the remaining third to a combination of problems with both partners or an unexplained source.
Causes Of Infertility
- The woman’s fallopian tubes may be blocked or damaged.
- The male sperm count may be low or there may be problems with sperm function.
- The woman’s ovaries may not be maturing and passing eggs normally or egg quality and number may have diminished with age; or the woman may have hormonal conditions that adversely affect ovulation.
- Disorders of the uterus or vagina that impair fertility.
Generally, couples who have been unsuccessful in conceiving for a year are advised to seek medical help. The doctor will conduct a thorough medical history and physical examination to determine general health and pinpoint any possible causes of infertility.
Advanced Types Of Fertility Treatment
- Superovulation and intrauterine insemination (SO-IUI) – Using hormones to stimulate multiple egg ovulation and placing sperm in the uterus at the time of ovulation.
- In vitro fertilization (IVF) – Using hormones to stimulate egg ovulation, extracting the eggs, fertilizing the eggs in the laboratory, and then transferring the resulting embryo(s) into the woman’s uterus through the cervix.
- Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) – Using an instrument called a laparoscope to place the unfertilized eggs and sperm (gametes) into the women’s fallopian tubes through small incisions in her abdomen. Used in 5% of procedures.
- Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) – Fertilizing a woman’s eggs in the laboratory and then using a laparoscope to help transfer the fertilized eggs (zygotes) into her fallopian tubes. Used in 2% of procedures.