Which Infertility Treatment Is Right?
When a couple has trouble getting pregnant, infertility can be treated in a myriad of ways. While society tends to obsess over traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF), this method isn’t the only option. Often, procedures can be combined or modified to boost success rates and encourage the coveted outcome of a live birth. While IVF focuses on embryo transfer roughly 3-5 days after fertilization, other methods move faster. As a result, fertilization can happen in a woman’s uterus or just before an embryo transfer procedure.
Success is not guaranteed
In vitro fertilization may be the pop cultural gold standard for fertility treatments, but the process isn’t successful for everyone. Many people are surprised to learn that even in ideal patients, the procedure isn’t guaranteed to result in a pregnancy or a live birth. According to research, while 330,773 IVF cycles were conducted in a single year, only 77,998 live births were reported in the same time frame.
Modifying the IVF process
When researching fertility treatments, people may find that solutions are listed as IVF, with a hyphenated abbreviation after. When written with a hyphen, the solution denotes a modification to the standard IVF procedure. For example, IVF-FET stands for IVF with a frozen embryo transfer, meaning frozen rather than fresh embryos are being used. Similarly, a couple could undergo IVF with assisted hatching, which refers to gently cracking the egg exterior before introducing a sperm sample. This process makes penetration and fertilization easier.
What is TET?
To understand tubal embryo transfer (TET), one must first understand standard IVF-ET or embryo transfer. Usually, fresh or frozen eggs are fertilized and allowed to mature for 3-5 days in the lab before being transferred to a woman’s uterus. With TET, the transfer can occur immediately before fertilization or shortly after. During a tubal transfer, the fertilized embryo is transferred to a woman’s fallopian tubes rather than to the uterus. Shifting the transfer to earlier in the cycle timeline is often recommended for women who struggle with cervical problems or have experienced multiple failed traditional cycles.
What is GIFT?
Patients can choose gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)to speed up the IVF embryo transfer significantly. Rather than waiting for the egg to be fertilized in a lab, fertilization occurs in the fallopian tubes. During GIFT, a specialist transfers the zygote into the fallopian tube immediately after the egg and sperm are mixed. In most cases, the transfer occurs within 24 hours of retrieval.
What is ZIFT?
A zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT) is closer to traditional IVF-ET but still occurs earlier than the standard timeline. With ZIFT, the transfer still occurs in the fallopian tubes. However, instead of encouraging fertilization in the body, the eggs are fertilized outside the body. Instead of waiting 3-5 days to transfer, the exchange occurs immediately after embryos are formed.
Which strategy is best?
As with any other reproductive therapy solution, individual treatment methods are catered to the patient’s needs. TET, GIFT, and ZIFT all offer an earlier transfer, rather than waiting the traditional 3-5 days for the embryo to grow in the lab. For some women and couples, a modified approach to IVF can be the perfect solution to help achieve pregnancy.