Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART)
Several procedures can be used to unite sperm and eggs, thus bypassing altogether some of the factors causing infertility. Collectively, these procedures are referred to as assisted reproductive technologies (ART). Although most couples do not require these procedures to conceive, ART provides hope for those who do not respond to other therapies. (Learn more about our success rates.)
The simplest ART procedures use various medicines to stimulate ovulation and laboratory procedures to prepare sperm cells for insemination at the time of ovulation. Advanced ART procedures involve the use of various hormones to stimulate the growth of as many oocytes as possible. This multiple oocyte development increases the chances for fertilization and, subsequently, pregnancy.
After ovarian stimulation, eggs are harvested to be either mixed with sperm in a culture dish (In Vitro Fertilization) or injected with a single sperm cell (Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection).
In Vitro Fertilization
In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves mixing eggs and sperm in a small volume to allow fertilization to occur in an incubator. The resulting embryos are grown for two to five days in a laboratory setting. IVF initially was used to treat tubal factor infertility, but today is used for many causes of infertility, including endometriosis and unexplained factors. Learn more »
Intra-Cytoplasmic Sperm Injection
This procedure is used to treat male factor infertility or previously failed fertilization. In intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, a single sperm is injected into each egg.
In embryo transfer, an ultrasound is used to help guide a small, flexible tube into the uterus. Once in position, the embryos (or a single embryo) are gently placed in the uterus.
Used to enhance implantation, assisted hacthing involves a laser that is used to make a microscopic nick in the protein coat that surrounds the developing embryo.