Definition: – “Assisted reproductive technology is a technology used to induce pregnancy through processes such as in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and surrogacy.”
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) includes medical techniques to combat infertility. According to the WHO (World Health Organization), infertility means the inability to conceive for more than a year without contraception. Infertility is observed in both women and men.
ART includes the use of methods such as ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), IVF (in vitro fertilization), cryopreservation of embryos or gametes, use of fertility drugs, etc. This is called infertility treatment when the measurements are used to treat infertility. ART primarily deals with infertility and reproductive endocrinology. ART also has a role in surrogacy rules.
Assisted reproductive technology treats infertility and the treatment involves both a man’s sperm and a woman’s egg. The procedure begins by extracting eggs from a woman’s body and then fusing them with sperm to generate embryos. This embryo is then transmitted into the woman’s body. The most commonly used and effective ART is in vitro fertilization or IVF which is based on this principle.
Several times, ART techniques use donated eggs, donated sperm, or embryos that have been previously frozen. In some cases, techniques also involve a pregnancy carrier or surrogate. A woman who becomes pregnant with a female egg and sperm from a male partner is referred to as a surrogate. One of the challenges and frequently occurring complications of ART is the occurrence of multiple pregnancies, which can be minimized and prevented by limiting the count of embryos that are embedded in a woman’s body.
What causes Infertility?
Men and women, both could be sterile. Some of the factors or reasons for infertility are:
- Ejaculation or erectile dysfunction – ejaculation disorders due to impotence or ejaculation disorder
- Sperm count/sperm production – includes oligospermia and azoospermia. Some sperm die before an egg reaches or deforms
- Age – one of the main reasons is age. Older men have fewer sperm
- Structural abnormalities – changes in sperm motility or shape that prevent sperm from binding or swimming towards the egg.
- The inability of the ovary to produce eggs – ovulation disorders such as PCOS
- Quality of the uterine lining – such as endometriosis in which uterine tissue invades, causing damage to adjacent reproductive tissues
- Structure of the fallopian tube – a blockage in the tube prevents the sperm from meeting the egg
- Advanced maternal age – the quality of a woman’s egg decreases with age and can limit her ability to conceive.
Types of Assisted Reproductive Technology
Some commonly used methods of ART include
1. In vitro fertilization (IVF) – One of the most common forms of ART is IVF. Here fertilization takes place outside the body.
2. Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) – It transfers sperm and eggs into the female fallopian tube where fertilization takes place.
3. Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) – Also known as tubal embryo transfer, it is similar to IVF because it involves fertilization outside the body. The young are not placed in the fallopian tube.
4. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) – This method is often used for couples where the man is infertile. It is sometimes used for those who have failed in an IVF attempt or even an older couple. The principle to be followed here is that the sperm is introduced into mature eggs, unlike traditional fertilization methods where the sperm and egg are placed in a petri dish. The sperm fertilizes the egg itself.
5. Artificial insemination – Deliberate introduction of sperm into a woman’s cervix or uterus to achieve pregnancy without intercourse. It can be of the following types:
- Intrauterine insemination
- Intracervical insemination
- Intratubal insemination