What are the Advanced Treatment Options for Infertility?
Most couples possess a strong desire to conceive a child at some point and for 85% of them, pregnancy can be achieved within a year of trying. And only an additional 7% is found to get pregnant in the second year of trying. Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive after a year of repeated and well-timed attempts.
The causes of infertility are numerous and often complex. The condition can be due to either male or female factors. With the help of advanced technology, there are methods to resolve infertility in most scenarios.
Assistive Reproductive Technology or ART
Advanced treatments for infertility involve the use of ARTs or assistive reproductive technologies. ART involves the handling of the sperm and egg cells in order to prompt fertilization in a laboratory setting while being supervised by a team of expert embryologists and other professionals who work together to help an infertile couple achieve fertilization and pregnancy.
Below listed are some of the advanced treatments for infertility
IUI- Intrauterine Insemination
This technique involves the use of washed and concentrated sperm cells that are transferred into the uterine cavity using a thin catheter. This helps bypass the major loss points- the cervix and vagina, and aids in increasing the chances of fertilization.
IVF - In-Vitro Fertilization
This is one of the most common forms of ART that is sought out and recommended for infertile couples. IVF involves administering medications by the woman to stimulate the ovary to grow multiple mature eggs. They are extracted using a minor surgical procedure and placed in a dish along with a sperm sample where fertilization occurs. The embryos developed can be transferred to the uterus within a few days of development or stored as frozen embryos for future implantation.
ICSI - Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is a micromanipulation technique used in IVF treatment. Instead of allowing the sperm to fertilize the egg in a dish naturally, ICSI involves injecting a healthy sperm into the cytoplasm of an egg using a fine glass needle. This treatment does not rely on the ability of the sperm to move and attach itself to the egg and hence is highly beneficial for couples who face male infertility issues.
During fertilization, the sperm cell swims to the egg, attaches itself on the surface and penetrates to the insides. However, in some cases, the outer layer of the egg is too thick for it to pass through. Here, ICSI can be the required solution. ICSI cannot guarantee fertilization as the cellular processes of fertilization still need to occur naturally in the egg.
Use of donor eggs or sperm: When the egg or sperm cells are affected by severe problems, the usage of donor cells can cause fertilization and a successful pregnancy.
Gestational carrier: For women who lack a functional uterus or have the potential to endure a high-risk pregnancy can opt for IVF using a gestational carrier. Surrogacy is a form of ART in which a woman (the surrogate) carries a child for another person or couple with the intention of giving the child to that person or couple after birth. The embryo or blastocysts are placed in the uterus of the carrier for pregnancy.
Techniques Used In IVF
- Assisted hatching: In this technique, before the implantation, the outer cover of the embryo is weakened to facilitate easy attachment to the uterus wall and cause pregnancy.
- Vitrification: Vitrification is the method used to freeze eggs, sperm and embryos for later use.
- Reproductive genetics: Most embryos with an incorrect number of chromosomes fail to implant or miscarry during the first trimester of pregnancy. Genetic testing protocols have the potential to help many couples in increasing their chances of getting pregnant.