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GIFT and ZIFT

GIFT: What You Can Expect continued...

The eggs and sperm are collected just as they would be in an IVF procedure, but after that, the two techniques differ. In IVF, the embryo is placed into the uterus with a catheter inserted into the vagina in a quick and simple procedure. In GIFT, an incision has to be made in the abdomen and the eggs and sperm are placed in the fallopian tubes using a laparoscope, a small telescope-like instrument. A laparoscopy requires general anesthesia, although it can still usually be performed as an outpatient procedure.

If all goes well, once the eggs are in the fallopian tubes, at least one will become fertilized by the sperm and move on to the uterus, where it will mature. But, because the eggs and sperm are placed into the fallopian tubes before conception, there's no way to know if fertilization has taken place. Typically, more eggs are used in GIFT to ensure pregnancy, which also increases the risk of multiple births.

The American Society of Reproductive Medicine recommends that GIFT only be performed in a facility that is prepared to carry out IVF as an alternative or in addition to GIFT.

ZIFT: What You Can Expect

This procedure is similar to GIFT in that the assisted reproduction is done in the fallopian tubes. The difference is that with ZIFT the sperm and egg are mixed together in the laboratory, and given time to fertilize before being placed in the fallopian tubes. In this sense, ZIFT is closer to traditional in vitro fertilization. ZIFT, like GIFT, requires treatment with hormones, and the procedure is performed by laparoscopy. Because ZIFT allows for fertilization to be confirmed before the eggs are inserted into the fallopian tubes, fewer eggs are usually used, lowering the risk of multiple pregnancy.

Success Rates

The Centers for Disease Control groups together all procedures that constitute assisted reproduction technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization, GIFT, and ZIFT. So there's no way to know the success rates of each technique. Combined, however, the most recent report, from 2011, found:

  • Successful pregnancy was achieved in 36% of all cycles.
  • About 64% of the cycles carried out did not produce a pregnancy.
  • Less than 1% of all cycles resulted in an ectopic pregnancy (the embryo implants outside of the uterus).
  • About 30% of these pregnancies involved multiple fetuses.
  • About 82% of pregnancies resulted in a live birth.
  • About 18% of pregnancies resulted in miscarriage, induced abortion, or a stillbirth.

The Costs of GIFT and ZIFT

Both procedures are expensive, typically costing between $10,000 and $15,000 a cycle. The cost will vary depending on where you live, the amount of medications you are required to take, the number of cycles you undergo, and the amount your insurance company will pay toward the procedure. GIFT and ZIFT may cost more than traditional in vitro fertilization. You should thoroughly investigate your insurance company's coverage of GIFT and ZIFT and ask for a written statement of your benefits.

Although some states have enacted laws requiring insurance companies to cover at least some of the costs of infertility treatment, many states haven't.

Also be aware that some carriers will pay for infertility drugs and monitoring but not for the cost of assisted reproductive technology. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, publishes a booklet called the "Infertility Insurance Advisor," which provides tips on reviewing your insurance benefits contract. RESOLVE's web site is www.resolve.org.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Trina Pagano, MD on July 28, 2014
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