IVF is one of several possible methods to increase the chance for an infertile couple to become pregnant. Its use depends on the reason for infertility. IVF may be an option if there is a blockage in the fallopian tube or endometriosis in the woman or low sperm count or poor quality sperm in the man. There are other possible treatments for these conditions, such as surgery for blocked tubes or endometriosis, which may be tried before IVF.
IVF will not work for a woman who is not capable of ovulating or a man who is not able to produce at least a few healthy sperm.
Once the eggs are removed, they are mixed with sperm in a laboratory dish or test tube. (This is where the term test tube baby comes from.) The eggs are monitored for several days. Once there is evidence that fertilization has occurred and the cells begin to divide, they are then returned to the woman's uterus.
In the procedure to remove eggs, enough may be gathered to be frozen and saved (either fertilized or unfertilized) for additional IVF attempts. A 2004 study from the Mayo Clinic found that frozen sperm was as effective as fresh sperm for IVF.IVF has been used successfully since 1978, when the first child to be conceived by this method was born in England. Over the past 20 years, thousands of couples have used this method of ART or similar procedures to conceive.
Other types of assisted reproductive technologies might be used to achieve pregnancy. A procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) uses a manipulation technique that must be performed using a microscope to inject a single sperm into each egg. The fertilized eggs can then be returned to the uterus, as in IVF. In gamete intrafallopian tube transfer (GIFT) the eggs and sperm are mixed in a narrow tube and then deposited in the fallopian tube, where fertilization normally takes place. Another variation on IVF is zygote intrafallopian tube transfer (ZIFT). As in IVF, the fertilization of the eggs occurs in a laboratory dish. And, similar to GIFT, the embryos are placed in the fallopian tube (rather than the uterus as with IVF).
Stands for gamete intrafallopian tube transfer. This is a process where eggs are taken from a woman's ovaries, mixed with sperm, and then deposited into the woman's fallopian tube.
Stands for intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This process is used to inject a single sperm into each egg before the fertilized eggs are put back into the woman's body. The procedure may be used if the male has a low sperm count.
Stands for zygote intrafallopian tube transfer. In this process of in vitro fertilization, the eggs are fertilized in a laboratory dish and then placed in the woman's fallopian tube.
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