In our previous article, we had discussed the meaning and various possible causes that cause infertility in both - men and women. Once the prognosis is done and the cause identified, there are multiple techniques available today that can give them a ray of hope…
Artificial Reproductive Techniques (ART) involves all treatments where eggs are fertilized or embryos are conceived outside the body.
Let’s see some recent advances in artificial reproductive techniques:
1. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) – One of the least invasive and more affordable alternatives to IVF, in this process, a washed sperm is placed in the woman’s uterus using a catheter during the ovulation cycle.
2. In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) - is the treatment in which an egg is surgically removed from the ovary and fertilized outside the body. In some cases, IVF may be accompanied by the following two supplementary treatments:
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) – In this treatment, a single sperm is injected directly into the egg. After fertilization, the embryos are allowed to develop for 3 to 5 days before being transferred to the woman’s uterus.
Intracytoplasmic Morphologically Selected Sperm Injection (IMSI) – For couples that have had previously failed IVF and ICSI, IMSI is a ray of hope. The sperm selection is performed under magnification to identify good quality, which helps in better egg fertilization rates, better quality embryos, better rate of blastocyst formation and hence, better pregnancy rates.
|Embryos - Day 3|
3. Donor egg or embryo adoption program – If a woman is unable to conceive due to her matured age, health reasons or poor quality of her eggs, she can opt for donor eggs or embryos donated by another woman. The donor egg is combined with the partner’s sperm in the laboratory, and the embryo is transferred to the woman’s uterus after fertilization. The same procedure can be done with a donated embryo or donated sperm.
4. Gestational Surrogacy – In this procedure, another woman carries the embryo or donor embryo and gives birth to the baby for the couple facing fertility problems. It is also usually the most preferred route for single fathers.
5. Testicular Sperm Extraction (TESE) – For men who have no sperm in their semen, but still want to conceive with their own semen, this procedure can be useful. Sometimes, there is a sperm production, but it is not carried to the seminal fluid. In this case, sperm is extracted directly from the seminal ducts. This sperm extracted from the testis can be then directly injected into the egg or frozen for future use.
6. Cryopreservation – It is a procedure where sperms, oocytes or embryos are preserved by cooling to low sub zero temperatures, such as -196 degrees C. At such low temperatures, any biological activity, including biochemical reactions of gametes are effectively stopped.