Frequently Asked Questions About Infertility
What is assisted reproductive technology (ART)?
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is a term that describes several
different methods used to help infertile couples. ART involves removing eggs
from a woman's body, mixing them with sperm in the laboratory, and putting the
embryos back into a woman's body.
How often is assisted reproductive technology (ART) successful?
Success rates vary and depend on many factors. Some things that affect the
success rate of ART include:
- Age of the partners
- Reason for infertility
- Fertility clinic
- Type of ART
- If the egg is fresh or frozen
- If the embryo is fresh or frozen
The CDC collects success rates on ART for some fertility clinics. According
to the 2003 CDC report on ART, the average percentage of ART cycles that led to
a healthy baby were as follows:
- 37.3% in women under the age of 35
- 30.2% in women aged 35-37
- 20.2% in women aged 37-40
- 11.0% in women aged 41-42
ART can be expensive and time-consuming. But it has allowed many couples to
have children that otherwise would not have been conceived. The most common
complication of ART is multiple fetuses. But this is a problem that can be
prevented or minimized in several different ways.
What are the different types of assisted reproductive technology (ART)?
Common methods of ART include:
- In vitro fertilization (IVF)means fertilization outside of the body. IVF is
the most effective ART. It is often used when a woman's fallopian tubes are
blocked or when a man produces too few sperm. Doctors treat the woman with a
drug that causes the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Once mature, the eggs
are removed from the woman. They are put in a dish in the lab along with the
man's sperm for fertilization. After 3 to 5 days, healthy embryos are implanted
in the woman's uterus.
- Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT)or Tubal embryo transfer is similar to
IVF. Fertilization occurs in the laboratory. Then the very young embryo is
transferred to the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.
- Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)involves transferring eggs and sperm
into the woman's fallopian tube. So fertilization occurs in the woman's body.
Few practices offer GIFT as an option.
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is often used for couples in which
there are serious problems with the sperm. Sometimes it is also used for older
couples or for those with failed IVF attempts. In ICSI, a single sperm is
injected into a mature egg. Then the embryo is transferred to the uterus or
ART procedures sometimes involve the use of donor eggs (eggs from another
woman), donor sperm, or previously frozen embryos. Donor eggs are sometimes
used for women who can not produce eggs. Also, donor eggs or donor sperm are
sometimes used when the woman or man has a genetic disease that can be passed
on to the baby.