ART is a general term used to describe several techniques that are used to establish a pregnancy without sexual intercourse. ART involves using human gametes (sperm and egg cells) in a lab to help with conception. The eggs and sperm can be from you and your partner or can be from a donor. The embryo formed from the egg and sperm can be implanted in your uterus or in the uterus of a surrogate woman.
Semen is collected and processed in a lab and then inserted directly into the woman’s cervix or uterus. The woman who is inseminated provides the egg, and fertilization takes place inside her body (usually in the fallopian tube). This procedure may be more successful if a woman is inseminated twice during her menstrual cycle (rather than just once). Artificial insemination is an option for couples who have: A low sperm count or problems with sperm mobilityProblems with cervical mucusSexual dysfunction
The inseminated woman may be you (the prospective mother) or a surrogate mother. If you provide the eggs and your partner supplies the semen, the child will carry 100% of genes from you and your partner. However, if a surrogate woman is inseminated, the child will carry either 50% genes from your male partner and 50% from the surrogate mother, or 50% genes from a sperm donor (if used) and 50% genes from the surrogate mother. Genes are carried in the eggs and sperm to the next generation through conception. Whoever provides the egg and sperm determines the genetic makeup.
proceeds in several stages. First, your ovaries are stimulated through hormone treatment to cause several eggs to mature instead of the usual one egg per month. When the eggs are considered mature, a long thin needle is inserted into your vagina. With the help of ultrasound, the needle is guided to your ovary and the eggs are collected. The entire harvesting procedure usually takes 10-20 minutes, depending on the number of eggs that are collected. In many centers, the procedure is performed with local anesthesia and mild sedation. You can usually leave the office after an hour or so of observation.
Once eggs are harvested, they are separated from the fluid that surrounds them and placed in an incubator where the environment can be precisely controlled. Next, the eggs are fertilized with sperm. This usually just involves preparing sperm from a semen specimen (produced by either your male partner or a sperm donor) and placing it in the same dish as the egg or eggs. After about 24 hours, the eggs are examined to see if they are changing in ways that indicate fertilization has occurred. In the next phase (anywhere from 2-5 days), fertilized eggs that have developed into multiple-cell embryos are drawn up into a plastic catheter that is passed through the cervix into the uterus, and the embryos are released into the uterus. Hormone therapy may continue for several days, and blood hormone levels will be monitored. A pregnancy test is usually performed within 12-14 days to determine whether an embryo has implanted and a pregnancy has begun.
In some cases, more embryos develop than should be introduced into the uterus for one pregnancy. These embryos can be frozen for an indefinite period of time through a process called cryopreservation. The frozen embryos can be thawed and transferred if the initial round of IVF is unsuccessful or if you want to have an additional child in the future.
It should be noted, too, that IVF is often done with a donor egg and/or sperm.
There are several variations of the IVF procedure:
An egg is removed from your body and mixed with sperm in a laboratory. The egg and sperm mixture is then placed in your fallopian tube through a surgical procedure. The egg may be supplied by you or from an egg donor.
An egg is removed from your body and mixed with sperm in a laboratory. The resulting embryo (2-3 days old) is then placed in your fallopian tube. The egg may be supplied by you or obtained from an egg donor.
If you have eggs but do not have a functional uterus, you may supply eggs that are fertilized and placed in the uterus of a surrogate mother. If your male partner’s sperm is used to fertilize the eggs, the offspring will contain 100% of genes from you and your partner. If your male partner cannot provide the sperm, a donor can be used. If donor sperm is used, the child will have your genes but not your partner’s.
Women who do not have eggs and do not have a functional uterus may obtain eggs from a donor or surrogate. These eggs can be fertilized
by your male partner’s sperm or that of a donor. They can then be transferred to the surrogate. Depending on the source of the sperm, the child will have either 50% of genes from your male partner or no genes from your partner. Because you did not supply the eggs, the child will not have your genes.