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Assisted reproductive technologies (ART)

Fertility procedures that require laboratory handling of the sperm and egg are called assisted reproductive technologies (ART).

ART can be used for treatment of:

  • Moderate to severe male infertility, including low sperm count, low sperm motility and blocked or missing male reproductive tubes
  • Fallopian tube blockage or severe damage, including tubal ligations or damage caused by pelvic infections
  • Severe pelvic scar tissue which may be caused by endometriosis or infections (including appendicitis)
  • Endometriosis, especially when other treatments have not lead to pregnancy
  • Anti-sperm antibodies
  • Unexplained infertility

ART options include:

  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection: Injecting sperm directly into the egg.
  • Intrauterine insemination (IUI): Sperm are "washed" and then placed in the uterus during ovulation. In most cases, IUI is done along with taking hormone medication to stimulate egg development. The medication can be oral (pills or vaginal suppositories) or injections. When a combination of oral and injectable medications are used, it is referred to as a hybrid cycle.
  • In vitro fertilization: This is the most common and best known form of ART. Eggs collected from a woman's ovaries and sperm collected from a man are joined together in a lab to form embryos. Two, sometimes three embryos are transferred to a woman's uterus to establish a pregnancy.
  • Egg donation: Eggs from a donor are collected during an IVF cycle. The donor eggs are fertilized with sperm from the intended father. Resulting embryos are then transferred into the uterus of the intended mother.
  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis: Testing cells from embryos of couples who have a specific genetic condition they do not want to pass on to their children.
  • Preimplantation genetic screening: For couples who need testing for genetic conditions involving whole chromosomes or large areas of a chromosome. Appropriate for couples with multiple miscarriages.
  • Surgical sperm retrieval: Men who do not ejaculate sperm due to blocked or missing tubes in their reproductive system can have sperm retrieved from their reproductive tract. The retrieved sperm is cryopreserved for use in a future IVF cycle.
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