08 Jan Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT)
Gamete Intrafallopian Transfer (GIFT) is an ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) technique to achieve pregnancies in most couples who have not been able to conceive using conventional treatments.
Most couples deemed as being infertile will have their best chance of pregnancy with some sort of ART procedure. GIFT is one of them, and interestingly enough the only one that is completely acceptable to the Roman Catholic Church. The success rate with GIFT is slightly higher than IVF (in vitro fertilization), but GIFT can be performed only if the female has a normal fallopian tube and the sperm is viable. if fallopian tubes are abnormal, IVF is the way to go. If the sperm of poor quality, ICSI is the way to go.
A Gamete is a medical term that means the female’s eggs and the male’s sperm. GIFT is a minimally invasive procedure that involves getting direct access to the fallopian tubes. This is because GIFT involves in vivo fertilization.
The GIFT technique is close to the natural way as it allows the eggs to fertilize and develop in the fallopian tube, and then enter into the uterus for implantation. This is different from in vitro fertilization (IVF) in which the eggs are fertilized outside the body (in a petri dish) and inserted directly into the uterus. It is because of this reason that GIFT is more acceptable to religious organizations as it is more natural.
The process starts with hormonal stimulation of the ovaries using Clomiphene citrate (Clomid). If this does not satisfactorily mature the eggs, LH and FSH could be administered instead. When the eggs are mature, they are extracted through ultrasound-guided transvaginal method, placed in a laboratory dish and observed under a microscope. The egg is located, its stage of maturity noted, and it is then cultured in a special nutrient. Three hours before the procedure, a semen sample from the male partner/donor is obtained. The sperm is washed and loaded with the eggs into the catheter and introduced into the female’s fallopian tubes through a tiny abdominal incision. A pregnancy test is done two weeks after the procedure.
The number of eggs processed depends on the age of the patient, as a higher egg count increases your chance of success, which you need more of if your patient is older.
There is a 50% chance that GIFT results in a successful pregnancy. This rate is lower in older women.
If any ART cycle fails to achieve pregnancy, more cycles can be attempted. Doing so does not lower the chance of success.
Some cons to keep in mind are that GIFT is costly – anywhere between 15000 to 20000 USD. It involves expensive lab work, drugs, and surgery. It also involves an invasive procedure. Also, GIFT has a higher chance of multiple pregnancies (about 22%) – although that may be a desirable thing for many couples.