Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) involves several types of medical treatment designed to result in pregnancy. Types of ART include in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), embryo cryopreservation, egg or embryo donation, and gestational carriers.
As you embark on your fertility journey, you will want to do everything you can to maximize your chances of getting pregnant. If you have been diagnosed with infertility, assisted reproductive technologies, particularly in vitro fertilization (IVF), might help you conceive. Many couples agree that going through IVF is very stressful, especially for those who face multiple rounds. However, recent studies have shown that most women will conceive within three IVF cycles. To boost your chances of conceiving with IVF, consider following your clinic’s course of treatment plan, which may include committing to several rounds of IVF.
Ovulation can be stimulated by one of several regimens. The drugs used include: clomiphene citrate (Clomid™, Serophene™, oral medications), hCG (Pregnyl, Ovidrel™, Luveris®), human menopausal gonadotropin or FSH (Follistim™, Gonal F™,Bravelle™). These drugs are given by subcutaneous injection rather than intramuscularly. Clinics often use one or several of these drugs. A GnRH agonist (Lupron™, Synarel™) or GnRH antagonist (Ganirelix Acetate Injection™, Cetrotide™) can also be prescribed to prevent a premature surge in the hormone LH. Some clinics start the GnRH agonist in the luteal phase of the cycle preceding the IVF attempt; others just prior to ovulation induction. The drug is given by subcutaneous injection or nasal spray. In contrast, the GnRH antagonists are given once the stimulation drugs are started.
The combination of tiny glass tools connected to electric motor-driven robot arms, which are linked to a specialized microscope, is called a micromanipulator. The tips of these minute microtools are sometimes smaller than the head of a sperm.
If the embryos are developing normally, the woman will return to the clinic to have the embryos transferred into her uterus. The embryos will usually be at the two to eight cell stage. Some clinics are now letting embryos grow for 5 days to the blastocyst stage.
Vaginal ultrasound guided aspiration is used to harvest the egg(s). Intravenous pain medication is often used to make the woman comfortable. Timing is crucial. If the egg harvest is done too early, the eggs won’t fertilize; if it is done too late the eggs may have been released spontaneously or may be too mature.
For countless infertile couples dreaming of a family, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a dream come true. If you are struggling with infertility, it’s important to know that you are not alone. In fact, of the 62 million women of childbearing age in the U.S., approximately 12 percent have received assistance for infertility. Over 142, 244 IVF cycles were performed at 442 reporting clinics in 2009, resulting in 45,870 live births and 60,190 infants in the U.S. The use of IVF has doubled over the past decade and, today, over 1% of all infants born in this country every year are conceived using Assisted Reproductive Technology – with IVF comprising 99% of ART procedures.