The choice of fertility treatments available can seem overwhelming and their names sound like something out of an episode of Star Trek. So, to bring things down to earth, here's our at-a-glance guide to the top five fertility treatments.
IUI (intrauterine insemination)
A fine tube containing best quality 'washed' and treated sperm is inserted into the woman's vagina through the cervix and into the uterus. The aim is to get the sperm closer to the site of fertilisation and either the partner's sperm or donor sperm is used. Insemination is carried out during the most fertile part of the woman's cycle, sometimes two or three days in a row.
IVF (in vitro fertilisation)
Eggs are gathered from the woman's ovaries and mixed with sperm. Fertilisation takes place in a flat glass dish (not in a test tube as is the popular belief). The fertilised egg or embryo is then transferred to the woman's uterus. It sounds simple but a single treatment cycle can take between six weeks and two months and will include phases where you have to have injections every day and regular ultrasounds.
ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection)
A relatively new technique which uses microinjection equipment to inject a single sperm directly into the centre of the egg. It means that men whose sperm quality or quantity was previously too poor for IVF can now have a chance of fathering children.
GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer)
GIFT is similar to IVF except that fertilisation occurs inside rather than outside the body. Once egg collection is complete, the eggs are assessed by an embryologist and up to three of the 'best' are mixed with around a hundred thousand motile sperm. The eggs and sperm are then immediately placed in the woman's fallopian tube in the same operation.
ZIFT (zygote intrafallopian transfer)
ZIFT is a mixture of IVF and GIFT fertilisation occurs in the laboratory, just as it does with IVF. Three zygotes (an egg after fertilisation and before cell division has started) are then transferred to the woman's fallopian tube much sooner than in the case of IVF because it's believed that the natural environment of the body is a better place to encourage an embryo to develop than a laboratory dish.
Courtesy of Pregnancy & Birth
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