Infertility treatments that involve mixing eggs and sperm outside the body include in-vitro fertilization, gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI, see Male infertility). IVF is also used to treat some genetic disorders because the embryo can be tested for abnormalities before implantation.
IVF may be performed if the cause of infertility cannot be determined or treated or if there is a blockage in a fallopian tube.
Drugs are given to stimulate several eggs to mature in the ovaries. Under ultrasound guidance, the eggs are collected with a needle inserted through the vaginal wall.
A sperm sample, provided by the woman’s partner, is combined with the collected eggs and the mixture is incubated for 48 hours at normal body temperature (37°C or 98.6°F) to allow fertilization to take place.
The fertilized eggs are introduced into the woman’s uterus. Up to three eggs are injected through a thin tube that is fixed to a syringe and passed through the cervix. This procedure takes around 20 minutes. If one or more fertilized eggs implant, conception occurs.
Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) may sometimes be used to help couples who have fertility problems. In GIFT, eggs are collected as in IVF, mixed with sperm, then returned to the fallopian tube rather than the uterus.
From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.