The change in human lifestyle over the decades has taken a heavy toll on human health leading to serious health issues that include infertility. As per data, one in every seven couples is found infertile. Infertility is a major issue that plagues many families. It gets very tough on couples who are keen to have babies but cannot due to it. Failing to achieve a successful pregnancy causes couples to slip into depression. Thus, to let many such families feel the joy of childbirth, science and technology have made remarkable advancements in the field of artificial fertilization causing pregnancy and childbirth.
What is Infertility?
When a person is incapable of contributing fully to pregnancy even after insecure coitus, it is known as infertility. There are many reasons for infertility which may be physiological or social that causes an unhealthy lifestyle and ultimately infertility. Women generally suffer from infertility due to ovulatory variations or physical problems with the reproductive system. And males suffer from insufficient sperm production or genetic defects leading to infertility.
Medical Solutions to Infertility
Infertility can be treated medically by treating an onset of other physiological factors or lifestyle changes or a combination of both. Or, it can be solved medically with the help of processes like in vitro fertilization (IVF), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), and gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), etc.
All of these processes come under assisted reproductive technology (ART). It is a collection of medical manipulation methods to circumvent infertility. The method could be gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), in vitro fertilization (IVF), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), embryo transfer (ET), and so on. All of these processes ultimately aim to achieve ovulation or spermatogenesis; to increase the probability of pregnancy and to carry it till full term. ART is very helpful for couples trying for pregnancy but is very time consuming, unsure results, and not economical, it is not preferred by everyone.
1. In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)
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In vitro fertilization, also referred to as test tube baby by common man, is the most commonly used method of ART. In vitro fertilization, as the name suggests is the method in which fertilization is carried out externally in-vitro or culture medium. In case, the female is infertile, ova, or the egg is taken from the female donor or if the male is infertile, sperms are taken from the male donor. They are kept in culture media, and the healthiest, vial sperm is selected. The fertilization takes place by fusing ova and sperm outside the body under well-maintained laboratory conditions. Successful fertilization leads to the formation of a zygote or the test tube baby. The zygote is carefully cultured and grown into an embryo. This embryo is then implanted in the uterus of the mother, who will carry the baby till full term for 9 months and deliver it. It is a common technique used for women with damaged or clogged Fallopian tubes.
2. Zygote Intrafallopian Transfer (ZIFT)
Zygote intra-fallopian transfer (ZIFT), also called Tubal Embryo Transfer is analogous to IVF. It is a form of assisted reproductive technology or ART procedure in which fertilization takes place in a laboratory. It is most often done when helping women with blocked fallopian tubes that do not allow normal binding of sperm to egg thus preventing pregnancy. In such cases, Egg cells are removed from a woman’s ovaries and fertilized in vitro. The resulting zygote is then placed in the Fallopian tube of the mother using laparoscopy. Thus, the procedure of ZIFT proceeds as follows: egg retrieval from ovaries, in vitro fertilization, carrying the zygote into the uterine tubes for implantation, and further development. ZIFT is not a procedure to help women with abnormal uterine tubes.
3. GIFT – Gamete Intra-Fallopian Transfer
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer is a different method from the other two. IVF and ZIFT involve in vitro fertilization, but GIFT procedure involves in vivo fertilization. In this process the gametes, that is, sperm and ova are placed directly into the fallopian tube. Thus, in this process, fertilization and zygote formation takes place inside the fallopian tubes of the mother and is hence a more natural process as it occurs within the female body. However, this procedure can only be carried out if the sperm count is good and at least of the fallopian tubes of the female are functioning.
GIFT is an alternative procedure for IVF. It was one of the common forms of ART but not today. It is a procedure where the man’s sperm and a woman’s egg are made to combine in a lab. The fertilization takes place inside a woman’s body in GIFT procedures and not in a lab. Thus, it is a better ART procedure for the couples who opt for a natural treatment/ procedure that enables the fertilization and implantation to take place naturally inside the female’s body.
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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
- What is Intrauterine Insemination IUI?
Ans. Intrauterine insemination or IUI is a fertility treatment that involves the placement of sperms taken from males in the woman’s uterus by a long narrow tube. IUI can most often be performed in combination with administering medications that stimulate so that there are more chances of egg fusing with the sperm leading to fertilization and subsequently a successful pregnancy.
IUIs treatment is prescribed based on the couple’s reproductive health and fertility. If inseminations with frozen or fresh sperm are done monthly, the rates of success can be more than 20% per cycle based on other factors that include the administration of fertility medications, woman’s age, infertility diagnosis along with other factors that affect the achievement of the cycle.
- How is GIFT different from ZIFT?
Ans. GIFT is rather a semi-natural procedure in which fertilization takes place in vivo. That is, fertilization occurs inside the female body. In this process the gametes, that is, sperm and ova are placed directly into the fallopian tube. The fertilization and zygote formation occurs within the female body. GIFT procedure can only be carried out if the sperm count is good and at least of the fallopian tubes of the female are functioning. Thus, the reproductive state of the parents is important in this procedure.
On the other hand, ZIFT is an in vitro fertilization procedure. In this process male and the female gamete, either taken from healthy parents or donors and fused in a lab maintained artificial medium. Healthy zygotes or zygotes are then implanted in the uterus of the female who would carry the baby till the full term.