30 May Overview of Assisted Reproductive Technology
When a woman cannot achieve pregnancy using traditional medical and surgical
techniques, she and her partner may choose to use assisted reproductive technology (ART).
Intrauterine Insemination (IUI)
The placement of the man’s sperm into the woman’s uterus is called intrauterine
insemination (IUI), which is done using a long, thin tube. IUI is used along with medications to stimulate ovulation, and increases the chance of natural pregnancy.
People who can use IUI effectively include:
- Women with defects and/or scarring of the cervix (bottom of uterus)
- Men who cannot get erections
- Men with low sperm counts or problems with sperm mobility
- Men who have difficulty getting erections
- Men with retrograde ejaculation (sperm goes into the bladder instead of out
The success of IUI is dependent on the cause of a couple’s infertility. When
inseminations are performed monthly using fresh sperm, success rates are as high as 20% per cycle, which increases when fertility medications are used. Success rates depend on the age of the woman, the infertility diagnosis, and sperm quality.
In Vitro Fertilization
With in vitro fertilization (IVF), sperm and eggs are taken from the recipient couple and placed in a laboratory petri dish. The resulting embryos are placed into the recipient female’s uterus where one or more will result in a healthy pregnancy. The steps of IVF are:
Stimulation of egg maturation – Also known as ovarian stimulation or ovulation
induction, stimulation of egg maturation involves the use of medication to make
eggs mature at one time. Once eggs are mature, an hCG injection is used for
stimulating ovulation, and eggs are retrieved 34 hours later.
Egg retrieval – With this process, eggs are removed from the ovaries using a
simple 30-minute procedure. The ultrasound problem allows the doctor to
visualize the ovaries and follicles, which house the eggs. A small needle is
inserted through the vaginal wall into the follicle. Using suction, the eggs are
pulled into the needle.
Fertilization – The eggs are combined with sperm in a petri dish, which is left
overnight in an incubator. If necessary, a single sperm is injected into the egg
using a process called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
Embryo transfer – The resulting embryos are transferred into the uterus lining
using a thin, long tube inserted through the vagina.
Sperm and Egg Donation
Couples may choose to use donor eggs and/or sperm for reproduction. Donated sperm can be inserted into the uterus through IUI or IVF. A donated egg is fertilized using the sperm from the male recipient. The resulting embryo is placed into the female recipient’s uterus. Egg donation is useful for women who:
- Have primary ovary insufficiency
- Have no ovaries (hysterectomy)
- Had chemotherapy or radiation treatment
- Are infertility due to poor egg quality
- Are carriers of certain genetic diseases
Surrogates and Gestational Carriers
When a woman cannot carry a pregnancy, one option is using a surrogate or
gestational carrier. A surrogate is a woman who is inseminated with the sperm of the
male partner. Surrogacy is an option for a couple when the female partner cannot
produce healthy eggs. A gestational carrier is a female who carries the couple’s embryo
to term. If necessary, sperm and/or egg donation can be used.
The top fertility clinics in Los Angeles, Glendale, Irvine, Torrance and Corona are Pacific Repdroductive Center. All types of ART are offered with top fertility doctors, call us today!
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Intrauterine insemination.
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Third party reproduction (sperm,
egg, and embryo donation and surrogacy): A guide for patients. Retrieved from
American Society for Reproductive Medicine. (2012). Assisted reproductive
technologies: A guide for patients. Retrieved from: