What is Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)?
Loosely put, assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is a term that is used to describe a number of different methods that are used to help infertile couples have a baby. Assisted reproductive technologies is a complex process where eggs are surgically removed from a woman's body and then are mixed with sperm in a laboratory.
After a set period of time if fertilization has taken place which can be seen by the division of cells, the embryos are then implanted back into a woman's uterus. ART employs methods to achieve pregnancy that are artificial or are partially artificial as opposed to conceiving a child the natural way. Some of the most common forms of ART include in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer/tubal embryo transfer (ZIFT/TET).
Assisted reproductive technologies have only been around for the past thirty years. The success rates for ART methods vary from person to person and they are dependent on a number of different factors such as the reason that the couple suffer from infertility, the age of both people, the method of ART that is undertaken, whether the egg that was used was fresh or frozen, and the same is true for the embryo.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention (CDC) collects statistics on a regular basis from fertility clinics and it looks carefully at the success rates for ART. The 2003 CDC report that came out on assisted reproductive technologies showed that the average percentage of ART cycles that led to the creation and development of a healthy baby were 37.3% for women under the age of 35; 30.2% for women who fall into the age group 35 to 37; 20.2% for women who are aged 37 to 40 and 11.0% for women who are aged 41 to 42.
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The most common cause of female infertility is a disorder related to ovulation. An other common cause of female infertility is blocked fallopian tubes, which can take place due to endometriosis and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Repeated miscarriages are often linked to birth defects (or congenital anomalies), which can involve problems with the structure or makeup of the uterus and/or uterine fibroids. Age also plays a role in a woman's ability to conceive. A woman's fertility begins to decline slightly at age 30 and then takes a significant drop at age 35. After age 40 a woman has a one in ten chance of getting pregnant. The ovaries decline in their ability to produce eggs as a woman advances in years, and this is most readily seen after the age of 35.
It is important to be aware of the fact that ART can be very costly and it can also take a great deal of time in order to undertake. However it has brought hope to many couples that otherwise would not have been able to have their own biological child. The most common complication that results from ART is multiple fetuses, but there are ways that this concern can be other minimized or prevented all together.
There are many different options for ART methods. The most effective type of ART is in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is when an egg is fertilized outside of a woman's body in a laboratory. This form of ART is often put into play when a man does not produce enough sperm or lese when a woman has a fallopian tube that is blocked.
Zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) is also known as tubal embryo transfer and this is similar in nature to IVF. Fertilization of the egg takes place in a laboratory but when the embryo is put back in the woman's body it is placed in the fallopian tube as opposed to the uterus.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) has to do with transferring both eggs as well as sperm into a woman's fallopian tube by way of a laparoscopy in order to encourage fertilization to take place. GIFT is not a form of ART that is offered by too many fertility clinics.
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