No Guarantees With IVF
In the past, in vitro fertilization (IVF) was once a foreign concept that only a select few attempted. Now, IVF has practically become a household word. In vitro fertilization is one type of assisted reproductive technology (ART) where eggs and sperm are used to create embryos outside the body. Despite the increasing popularity, IVF is complex and does not always produce the desired outcome. When IVF cycles fail, fertility clinics will move on to trying techniques like gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).
Why does IVF fail?
Since the first successful IVF procedure, more than 8 million babies have been born worldwide from this procedure. However, this doesn’t mean IVF is infallible. Almost 50% of IVF procedures in women aged 35-37 fail. The success rate further decreases as women age. Many factors can lead to an unsuccessful IVF procedure. For example, some women do not produce high-quality eggs due to age or health conditions. Some women experience a chemical pregnancy in which the embryo implants but does not develop past the 8-cell stage. Other issues may stem from a poor ovarian response, sperm problems, or issues with the endometrium lining. Success rates increase with each subsequent IVF cycle. However, moving to GIFT or ZIFT may provide better outcomes.
What is GIFT?
With GIFT, the eggs and sperm are first combined in a catheter. Then a laparoscopic procedure is performed to inject the eggs and sperm directly into the fallopian tubes. Fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes, and the embryo then moves to the uterus for pregnancy. GIFT is a standard alternative treatment for couples with unsuccessful IVF cycles. However, GIFT may not be a viable treatment choice for all patients. Women under the age of 38 with low egg quality or low follicle count may not see success with GIFT. This is because the risk of ectopic pregnancy is higher in younger women who haven’t had children before. Women with damaged fallopian tubes due to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or surgery are also unsuitable for GIFT.
What is ZIFT?
ZIFT proceeds with similar steps to IVF but over a shorter period and involves laparoscopic surgery. First, the egg and sperm are combined and allowed to fertilize for about 24 hours in the lab. The resulting embryos are next placed directly into the fallopian tubes using surgery. ZIFT is helpful for women with healthy fallopian tubes and is often more successful than GIFT. The ZIFT procedure is also beneficial for couples experiencing issues with the sperm, such as oligospermia or when the sperm cannot penetrate the egg.
Hope after IVF
The IVF process can take an emotional toll on patients, especially if multiple failed cycles occur. However, there’s still hope. With technological advances, alternative treatment options are available. GIFT and ZIFT are both successful options for infertile couples. Each treatment option has pros and cons, which should be studied and discussed thoroughly. Consult a fertility specialist to understand these procedures better and determine the best course of action.