More Ways To Get Pregnant

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most well-known form of assisted reproductive therapy (ART), helping thousands of couples get pregnant every year. Many people are surprised to learn the process can be performed in various ways. The general treatment plan follows a set form of parameters. However, patient history, age, previous IVF outcomes, and past pregnancy experience can indicate a need to modify the procedure for a more successful cycle. How can different scientific techniques be used to increase the chance of pregnancy?

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1. A jump start with assisted hatching

Some fertility clinics can perform assisted hatching, a process that uses a laser or acid to create a hole in the egg’s shell. The action takes place before sperm are introduced and allows for easier penetration of the egg ahead of fertilization. Women who have previously experienced several failed IVF cycles are encouraged to engage in the practice. Couples that want to undergo preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) to screen for specific genetic diseases or chromosomal abnormalities can also opt for assisted hatching.

2. Tubal fertilization

With a natural pregnancy, fertilization typically occurs in the fallopian tubes when the egg and sperm meet. With traditional IVF, that process occurs outside of the body in a lab. The embryo is then transferred to a woman’s uterus 3-5 days later. For some people, IVF can be altered to allow fertilization to occur inside the body. With gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), eggs and sperm are still extracted from a couple or donors. However, the sample is immediately transferred to the fallopian tubes after mixing. GIFT is usually only recommended for women with a known tubal blockage, unexplained male infertility, or for religious reasons.

3. ICSI to bolster sperm function

The topic of fertility often feels like a subject that focuses solely on women, but men contribute to infertility at roughly equal rates. For men, problems usually center around low sperm count, poor motility, or abnormal shape. Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is a variation of IVF that fertilizes the egg outside the body with a single sperm. Instead of exposing the egg to a large group of swimmers, specialists will inject a single sperm into the egg using a needle. If a man has poor sperm quality or quantity, the woman providing the egg is over 35, or the couple is using frozen samples, ICSI may be recommended.

Which method is best?

In vitro fertilization is still considered one of the best ART solutions to help women and couples conceive. With advances in science, the process can be modified depending on a patient’s history or identified health concerns. Ultimately, the choice to alter the IVF process will be made in consultation with a fertility specialist. Assisted hatching, tubal fertilization, or ICSI may be the key to bringing a healthy baby into the world.

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